Holiday shopping has never been easier. With free shipping, a warehouse full of all options and colors, and shopping carts that store your credit card number, you can safely shop from the comfort of your home. But, before you begin cyber shopping, here are seven critical online shopping safety tips you should know.

  1. Make sure your internet connection is secure: When providing your credit card information, it’s best to avoid using public Wi-Fi spots – like the one you find in coffee shops. Instead, limit your online shopping to the times when you are using your own secure home network. Make sure your wireless network is secured with a password to keep others off your network.
  1. Install anti-virus software and tools on all computers, and be sure to schedule the software to scan the system each evening.
  1. When visiting a store website, look for the “s” behind the HTTP, or an image of a lock in the web site’s address bar. Https://: the s represents that the website you’re on has its own personal privacy protection installed.
  1. Web browsers, and online stores that offer to remember your credit card information may be a huge time-saver, but can also put your credit card account at risk. If you’re going to use these memorization features, you’ll need to secure your web browser with a password. When creating passwords, use a complex combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.
  1. Never use birthdates, house numbers, or social security numbers. And don’t use the same password for multiple accounts!
  1. Use a credit card, rather than a debit card, which has stronger protections when disputing charges.
  1. Sign up for alerts with your bank, to send an email or a text message every time your card is used. If you see a transaction that doesn’t look familiar, call your bank immediately. Speed does make a difference. If you have been scammed, cancel the card, and contact all three credit score reporting agencies, and file a report, and contact the federal trade commission (FTC), to determine if you’re a victim of identity theft.

These tips will help you shop smart during the holidays. But it makes sense to use these practices year-round, as thieves work year-round, round the clock. Contact your Cole Harrison agent to review your policy to ensure you have adequate liability coverage in the event you need extra protection.

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