By: Whitney Morrow
Carter County Extension Agent
The holiday season is quickly approaching, and many of us are going to shop online for at least some of our holiday purchases. Being smart when and where you shop online this holiday season can help keep you from falling victim to cybercrime.
Only shop online when you know you have a secure internet connection. Shopping with an unsecure connection can make you an easy target for cyber thieves who can steal your credit card information. Remember public internet connections are not always secure, even if you are on your own device, and the public network’s security software may not always be up to date.
When buying online, look for a padlock symbol on the page and shop from sites that start with an https:// web address. The “s” after “http” shows that the website encrypts your information as the transaction is processed.
Use credit cards instead of debit cards to make purchases online. The Fair Credit Billing Act limits your responsibility to the first $50 in charges if your credit card is used fraudulently, and many credit card companies will not hold you responsible for any fraudulent charges made online. Review your statements and report any suspicious transactions to your credit card company. You also can request a free credit report from the three credit reporting agencies Experian, TransUnion or Equifax.
Create strong passwords and PIN numbers. Use different combinations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols to make your passwords hard to crack. Do not use personally identifiable passwords such as your address, birthday or name in your passwords, as these are easy for thieves to figure out. Keep your passwords private. Do not share them with others or keep them in your wallet or purse as these can be stolen. Try to use different passwords for each of your online accounts.
Automatically set updates on your device to keep it up to date with the latest security features. This includes updating apps, browsers and your operating system. Password protect your home connection to keep your personal internet network secure.
For more ways to protect your financial well-being, contact the Carter County Extension office.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.
Source: Kelly May, senior extension associate