How To

Smart Online Shopping During the Holidays

In 2018, total U.S. online sales from November to December was nearly $124 billion dollars. And the two largest days during those months? Black Friday at $6.2 billion and Cyber Monday at $7.9 billion.

As retailers make it easier to shop online, it comes as no surprise that most consumers are turning to their computers and phones to do their holiday shopping. But with ease comes risk—as cyber criminals are just waiting to get a hold of your personal information.

Putting the ‘S’ in ‘HTTPS’

Before you shop on any website, make sure it’s safe. If the URL doesn’t display a closed padlock next to it or it’s missing the “s” in “https,” then it doesn’t have a valid SSL certificate and isn’t secure. This means any personal info you provide is at risk of being stolen. See how Heritage Bank’s website is secure below.

Screenshot of sample secure URL bar for

Is It Legit?

Only shop on websites you know are legitimate. Never heard of the company? Type the name into your search browser and read the user reviews. Google, for instance, tends to compile user reviews of high-traffic sites at the top. But pay attention to reviews that look like they may be affiliated with the company.

Credit Is Best

Credit cards are the safest way to shop online because of the protection they provide. Credit cards allow you to return an item that isn’t what you ordered. And in most instances, if your card number is used fraudulently, you have zero liability. Just make sure you’re using credit cards wisely by creating and sticking to a budget.

Protecting Yourself

Above everything else, make sure you’re doing your part to keep your info secure.

  • All your devices—computer, tablet or phone—should have the most up-to-date software and/or virus protection. If you’re using apps, download them from a trusted source and don’t click on emails or links that don’t appear real.
  • Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi. Don’t shop online when you’re not connected to a secure network that you know is safe and especially don’t provide any personal or financial information. Use this time (and the free Wi-Fi) to compare prices and make your shopping list.
  • Keep your information locked. When you’re not using your computer, tablet or phone, keep it locked with a difficult or unique code. And make sure your passwords are strong, unique and different for each website you shop on.

The holiday season is a time to spend with friends and family, not stress out over shopping. Take advantage of online shopping during the holidays when and wherever you want—just be safe about it. If you have any questions about your account, or find an unauthorized purchase, call us immediately at 800-455-6126.

Information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author.


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