The holiday season is upon us, and that means it’s time to get your shopping on. While we all love getting great deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it is important to be safe while doing so.Holiday shopping not only increases the number of shoppers out and about, but it also increases theft and other crimes.
The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday retail sales will actually grow up to 8% from last year, despite recent economic challenges. Regardless of what you are buying, you should take extra precautions when buying online or in stores. You need to stay cautious about where you shop, how you shop, and when you shop.
Read on for some tips on safe holiday shopping— online & in-person:
Safe In-Person Holiday Shopping Tips
Excessive crowds, people getting trampled, and even fistfights… shopping at Black Friday sales brings a few safety risks. Consider these holiday shopping safety tips:
Park your vehicle in a visible area.
Lock your vehicle and double-check that all windows, doors, and trunks are secured.
Don’t leave anything valuable in your car. If you do, have something to cover it up or leave it in the trunk of your car.
Avoid shopping alone if you can.
Keep your bag close to your body and your wallet in an inside pocket or front pants pocket.
Be aware of your surroundings while walking into stores during Black Friday (November 25th). Know where the nearest exits are in case of an emergency!
Don’t argue or fight over an item— you can probably find another deal on it somewhere else.
Don’t take your money out until ready to pay and never show how much cash you are carrying.
Use only one credit card. Data breaches have occurred in the past at major retailers. Should something similar occur, you can reduce the risk of having multiple cards compromised.
We recommend shopping without children but if you do shop with your children, select a central location to meet in case you are separated. Teach kids how to ask an employee for help if they’re lost.
Look around and under your vehicle before approaching it when you are done shopping.
Look for other cars or people, and back out slowly.
Call 911 immediately if there is any sign of danger or suspicious activity.
Safe Online Holiday Shopping Tips
If you’re considering taking a more relaxed, homey approach to holiday shopping with online Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, you should still be cautious of holidayscams and identity theft. Consider these online shopping safety tips:
Stick to online retailers you are aware of, have a good reputation, and maybe have even shopped from before. Now isn’t the time to fall victim to a fake retail store because of a too-good-to-be-true deal.
If you want to buy from a retailer you’ve never heard of, do your research. Look at customer reviews that are legitimate. You can also look for reviews on websites likeTrustpilot orBetter Business Bureau (BBB).
Avoid using public Wi-Fi. Most public internet sources aren’t secure because they aren’t encrypted. This means hackers can easily place themselves on these networks. Use cellular data (if possible), an actual ethernet cable, your personal Wi-Fi, or aVPN.
Checkprices among different websites for the same items to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Try to use only one card for shopping so you can track down disputes if necessary. Whether you are using a debit or credit card, monitor what purchases are being charged to your account. If you see suspicious transactions, you may be a victim ofidentity theft.
Check website security by looking for the lock icon in the URL field. Make sure the URL starts with “https”, not just “http”. The “s” means the site is safer and more secure.
What About Digital Wallets?
Digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay , and Samsung Pay have revolutionized the way we carry around money without a physical card or cash. Digital wallets have made paying for things faster, easier and more convenient than ever before… but are they trustworthy?
It may surprise you to hear, the digital wallet you have in your phone is often safer to use than your traditional debit or credit card. There are many layers of security for these digital transactions. Digital wallets use what is called tokenization. This is one of the most secure payment methods because it is so heavily encoded that if a retailer was hacked, your information wouldn’t be compromised.
Mastercard explains that tokenization reduces fraud by creating a unique alternative card number or “token”, which keeps your transactions nearly untraceable by hackers. Although these wallets are some of the most secure payment sources, here are some tips to make sure your information remains secure:
Avoid using digital payment services over unsecured Wi-Fi.
Lock your phone when not actively using the digital payment account.
Be cautious when unlocking your smart device and make sure others can’t view your phone passcode.
Download security apps on your phone like double authentication and tracking apps.