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Stay Smart and Safe While Holiday Shopping

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a time when the Christmas season really was “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. I can hear the song ringing through my head even now! While I still hold strong to the idea that it is the hap-happiest time of the year (if you know the song you will get this line), times have changed and many of us do our holiday shopping online without a second thought.  While it sure makes things wonderful in the moment it can come with some not so wonderful consequences if you aren’t being careful. As Black Friday keeps creeping closer, we thought it would be a good idea to share some tips to make sure your holiday shopping doesn’t leave you needing a “Miracle on 34th St”.
1. Unsecured WiFi Networks
While I totally understand how blissfully decadent it is to sit sipping your pumpkin spice latte while casually shopping online at your favorite coffee shop, it can leave you completely vulnerable to hackers.  Don’t worry you don’t have to give up the dream, but if you aren’t going to avoid shopping on WIFI networks then you might want to get a VPN installed on your computer. Just Google VPN Services and you will find lots of great advice.

2. Strong Passwords
You have all heard this time and again I am sure, but it can be so tempting to make your password something simple to remember. Like say, jinglebells18 but that probably isn’t the best way to go. Make sure you are using a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols when creating your passwords and steer clear of using personal information.  Another common mistake is using the same password on all of your accounts. Bad Idea.  If you are like me and struggle with all of the usernames and passwords required in today’s on the go life then start using a password manager. I highly recommend it for being your password brain.

3.Too good to be true? Probably
While we all love a good deal if the deal seems too good to be true, then there is a very good chance that it probably is a scam.  If you receive an email  ad with links or asking you to share personal information make sure that you trust the source of that email!  Check to see where those links are taking you by hovering over the links before you click. When in doubt – DELETE!

4. Review your Statements Often 
This time of year typically means more transactions than normal on your bank and credit card accounts and it’s a good idea to review them at least weekly. You are more likely to notice a fraudulent charge this way and can quickly report the issue.

5. A low-rate credit card might be a good option
Using a credit card keeps hackers from gaining access to your bank accounts and most major credit cards offer $0 liability for fraudulent purchase.  just make sure you report the activity as soon as possible. If too much time passes, you may not get reimbursed. Remember though, not all credit cards are created equal so make sure to get a good one. BTW, we may have the scoop on a great low-rate card if you are looking!

Now that you are armed with some tips for staying safe while shopping online, don’t forget about one other item…those packages get delivered to your front door!  Make sure you know when the packages will be arriving and that someone will be around to bring it inside.  Not going to be home for a while? Ask a friend or neighbor to help you out by keeping it at their house until you can get it safely picked up.  You don’t want to find yourself “Dashing through the Snow” to the store having to replace all those gifts that were stolen off your front porch!

Happy Shopping!