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Online Shopping Safety Tips for You and Your Family 

September 20, 2023 by Brian Funicelli

The popularity of online holiday sales is continuously growing, currently making up one-third of all holiday shopping[1]. Consumers need to be aware that online shopping can present unique security risks. This holiday season, the best safety measure is to make sure your whole family knows how to browse and shop securely. 

Before buying gifts online, make sure that everyone in your household who uses your credit cards, debit cards, or makes financial transactions on your accounts understands basic cyber safety. The tips below will help you educate your family so everyone can get ready for the holidays with peace of mind.

online shopping

Be Cautious of Phishing Scams

During the holiday season, fraud and online scams are especially common. Last-minute online shopping and bargain hunting can cause consumers to overlook red flags for suspicious websites and promotion offers. 

Make sure each member of your family understands that a careless click can lead to anything from malware attacks to child identity theft. Here’s what everyone who shops online should know:

  • Never click on links in emails from unknown senders  
  • Don’t overlook misspellings in communication, since they are often a sign of fraudulent promotions 
  • Avoid too-good-to-be-true deals and ads for ultra-low prices or “exclusive” offers from retailers 
  • Never provide financial information or sensitive identity information, such as an Social Security number or residential address, in exchange for prizes

If you or your family member wants to learn more about a promotion, the best rule of thumb is to go to the retailer’s website directly by typing the correct URL into your browser. You can also call the retailer to confirm that the deal is legitimate.

Remind your family to mark suspicious emails as “spam” and delete them without clicking on any links.

Monitor Transactions

Various types of monitoring can help secure your family’s online activities and catch suspicious behavior sooner. Here’s are some of the ways to monitor for safety while online shopping:

  • Review Your Account Statements and Bills

If a criminal has accessed your account numbers or other financial information, the first sign of fraud may appear on your account statements. Make it a habit to review each line-item and review all billing statements for fraudulent activity more regularly during the holiday season.

If you don’t recognize a charge, report the suspicious activity to your bank, credit card company or other involved companies immediately – even if it’s a small charge. Cyber criminals often test accounts with small transactions to make sure they are active before using it for a larger amount.

  • Set Up Account Alerts

Encourage your family to set up financial account alerts. Most credit card companies provide updates on account balances, alerts for unusual purchases, or even send alerts for transactions over a dollar amount that you choose. You can even set up parental controls to monitor your child’s account to ensure no fraudulent activity is occurring.

Know Your Merchant

While searching online for gifts, make sure your family is transacting with reputable companies. A good indicator that the retailer is legitimate is if your web browser’s address bar includes a closed padlock symbol, or the URL address begins with “https,” rather than “http.”

Talk to your family members about the importance of keeping their personal and financial information safe. When transacting online, only provide the information that’s required to complete your purchase and opt out of letting retailers store your financial account information for future purchases.

Keep these tips in mind this holiday season – and all year long – to help you and your family shop safely online.

[1] Three insights from our 2023 Holiday spending report, Experian 2023.

 

This article is provided for general guidance and information.  It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice.  Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal issues or financial issues involved with credit decisions. 

Service provided by Experian®