9 Tips for Safer Online Shopping this Holiday Season

Woman shopping on tablet in focus and boyfriend decorating christmas tree blurred in background

Holidays are time for shopping — but if you’re spending money online, you might want to do a few additional safety checks. There are plenty of opportunities to find deals, but not all is what it seems. Trust your instincts and take these steps to have a positive holiday shopping experience.

1. Use Only Secure Websites

A secure website generally means your personal information, like your address and credit card number, is protected from prying eyes. That can mean less chance you will have your identity or payment information stolen. The best sites use SSL encryption to mask your info. Use only sites with an “https” address; the “https” — instead of “http” — means the added layers of security are in place.

2. Trust Only Secure Payment Methods

When you’re transacting online, even over secure websites, it’s smart to use a credit card or PayPal. These payment methods offer buyer protection in case there’s a disputed charge. Check your credit card details to learn what insurance you already have.

3. Keep Track of Credit Card Transactions

In the flurry of holiday shopping, it’s easy for you to lose track of spending. That’s just one reason why you should track your credit card purchases. The other is to spot any unauthorized charges. Normally, you have only a short period of time to dispute any unusual expenditures, so stay up-to-date on your transaction details.

4. Don’t save Sensitive Information

Even the reputable websites and mainstream web browsers offer to save your payment and billing information. Sure, that can save time, but it also makes it easier for someone to log into your account and spend money on your behalf — without your permission. Also, in the event of a hack, you risk your personal information landing into the hands of a fraudster. If you are a victim of identity theft, here are some actions you can take.

5. Create Unique Passwords for Each Site

As an additional barrier against theft of your information, try to vary your passwords. That way, even if one password gets out, it won’t open you up to fraudulent activity across all online retailers with whom you do business.

6. Shop with Trusted Vendors

Most Canadians have a few retailers they particularly trust, even when shopping online. Stick with these vendors over the holidays. If you are tempted by a good deal, look out for red flags that may indicate the retailer isn’t legitimate. There are some obvious signs, like misspellings across the site and suspiciously cheap products.

7. Know What You’re Buying

Counterfeit goods have always been around, but they have found new life in the era of online retailers. Before you click “buy,” do your best to know who you’re buying from, where it’s shipped from, and the product specifications.

8. Read Reviews

You can do your best to ensure you’re getting legitimate goods from quality retailers. Yet, sometimes things still don’t arrive on time or with the quality you expect. As an additional check, read online reviews of the item and the online store. Many people share both negative and positive experiences, so you can assess whether the purchase you’re about to make is a smart one.

9. Use a Rewards Credit Card

While it might not be directly connected to safety, there’s a real benefit in using a rewards credit card for your online shopping. Most of these cards offer the same purchase protection as other credit cards. But as an additional bonus, you can earn retailer or travel points, or even cash back on your holiday shopping. But not all rewards credit cards are created equal. It’s important to compare to find the best rewards credit card for your lifestyle.

Remember, it’s the holidays! It’s time to spread joy. Keep your online shopping safe and enjoy all the festivities.

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