How to Protect Yourself While Shopping Online
Whether you were an avid online shopper in previous years or not, there’s no denying that the upcoming holiday season will consist of primarily online purchases from consumers. For many, online shopping is the ideal way to make purchases because it’s convenient and you can do it anywhere, anytime. However, the simplicity of cybershopping comes with a trade-off, online security. By sharing personal information (address, credit card information, etc.) while making online purchases, consumers are at risk of becoming the victim of cybercrimes. Don’t let this scare you away from a socially distanced holiday shopping experience. There are many ways you can protect yourself and still shop safely from the comfort of your living room.
Before you begin filling your virtual shopping carts, reset your passwords and update any security software on your preferred online devices. Be sure to opt for strong, secure passwords that are comprised of letters, numbers, and special characters. Additionally, avoid using the same password across multiple sites and applications. By doing so, you will be able to ensure that you have the necessary protection to safeguard against any cyber threats.
Shop on Verified Sites
It’s important that you take a close look at the retailer’s site you plan to shop from before handing over your payment information. When visiting retail sites look for the small lock icon in the corner of the URL bar, also confirm that the URL begins with “https”, these two items will be the first step in ensuring the security and legitimacy of the site. If you don’t see the lock or the “s” after the “http”, then we suggest you look for a different retailer to shop with.
Have you ever stumbled upon a deal online that seemed too good to be true? Before you get too excited, take a few minutes to learn about the business offering this great bargain. Start with their website and confirm if the site is verified, additionally browse their social media accounts for customer reviews. Even if the retailer is legitimate, their product may not be and upon arrival you may learn that the ordered item doesn’t even come close to resembling the way it was advertised online. Although this isn’t the end of the world and may not jeopardize your personal information, it’s not ideal if you’re shopping for holiday gifts and then you need to start the process over at the last minute.
Pay with a Credit Card/Prepaid Debit Card
Typically, credit cards have the best liability protection, both online and offline, making it the obvious preferred form of payment during the holiday season or during any online shopping thereafter. Even if you’re the unfortunate victim of a cyber thief and unauthorized charges are made to your credit card, federal regulations state that until an investigation occurs and is completed no payments need to be made. Also, most major credit card companies offer $0 liability for fraudulent purchases. Another option is to use prepaid debit cards. Because this form of payment isn’t linked to your credit history or a bank account, a scammer can only get so far. Plus, many prepaid debit cards still offer some form of fraud protection. You may also consider using Apply Pay or Google Pay for an added layer of protection when paying with a credit card or a deposit account. Using the form of a digital wallet obscures your payment card information by using a one-time code that changes with every purchase, so even if a cybercriminal attempted to pull your payment info, they wouldn’t be able to access any further personal information.
Choose a Secure Debit Card for Purchases
If you’re using your Citizens Savings Bank Visa Debit Card for your holiday shopping, you have some extra protection available to you. You can register your email address to receive purchase alerts, so every time your debit card is used you will be notified immediately. This gives you the ability to be alerted quickly if a purchase is made without your authorization. Our debit cards come with chip technology, which is an added layer of protection as well.
Every time your debit card chip is used, a unique code is generated for that purchase, which deters criminals from stealing your debit card information. If they try to create a counterfeit card using your debit card information, the chip prevents them from doing so because the code generated is unique to each purchase.
Save Receipts and Confirmation Emails
Even after using the safest form of payment in your online expenditures, it’s important to retain all receipts and confirmation emails as well as keeping watch on all your spending accounts and bank statements. Even with fraud protection on credit and debit cards, it’s important that you can catch any discrepancies in your accounts sooner rather than later. Many banks have a specific time frame where fraudulent transactions need to be reported within, otherwise, they won’t reimburse a single dollar spent. Furthermore, it’s vital that you hold on to any documentation of purchases made so you can refute them if necessary or make any returns if needed.
The holiday season is a whirlwind no matter how prepared you may believe you are. It's important that you take the time to slow down and keep a close eye on the purchases you are making to ensure the safety of your private information.
Citizens Savings Bank has multiple locations throughout Lackawanna, Wayne, and Monroe Counties. For branch locations and hours, visit our website. We also have a Customer Support Team ready to answer any questions you may have. Call us today at 1-800-692-6279 or email [email protected]. Member FDIC.