How to protect your information during holiday shopping

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – As Black Friday and Christmas approach, many may find themselves scrambling to shop for themselves or others, often through online retailers.

In an effort to help consumers protect their information and data this holiday season, US Cellular’s Jessica Vinoverski discussed important security tips with WECT.

One of the first things online shoppers need to know is whether or not the website they are visiting is the legitimate business site.

“You want to go directly to the company’s website URL, instead of clicking on unknown links,” Vinoverski said. “And looking for that HTTPS just to protect yourself.”

The use of HTTPS, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer, helps ensure that information provided by the user is transmitted securely. According to information available from the Council of Chief Information Officers of the United States, HTTPS verifies the identity of a website for the client trying to connect. Almost all information sent between the website and the user will be securely encrypted, preventing the information from being read or changed while it is “in transit”.

Another important factor buyers should be aware of is that the use of public Wi-Fi for online transactions should be avoided whenever possible.

“You never want to go on and make payments while connected to public Wi-Fi like airports, Starbucks, things like that. Wait until you get home and connected to your secure Wi-Fi or use your cellular data.

Similar to making sure the website one is visiting is properly encrypted, making sure to visit reputable sites is another important step to safe shopping.

“I search for this website URL once again and stay away from anything that looks familiar, anything that sounds too good to be true.”

But every once in a while, the difficult nature of navigating the Internet can create risks even for knowledgeable people.

“Again, avoid things that seem too good to be true. I mean, I almost fell victim to this the other day,” Vinoverski said. “Look at reviews, read reviews on websites, the applications in which you will go.”

Finally, regularly checking credit/debit card and bank statements is essential to guard against online threats.

“Set up your automated alerts so your bank can let you know if you have back-to-back purchases, out-of-state purchases so you can be alerted immediately if anything unusual happens.”

About Valerie Wilson

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