By Etop Ekanem

‘Tis the season for deals and sales, as there’s never a more perfect time to shop for all your favorite things than Christmas! However, amidst the excitement that comes with price-slashes and the shopping frenzies, it’s important to not forget the cybercriminals also working overtime to take advantage of unsuspecting customers who fail to shop safely. To avoid this Christmas Grinch, here are a few tips from Unlimint that will help you learn to shop securely this holiday season:

Only Shop on Secure and Familiar Sites:

If you are last-minute shoppers like us and are currently in the holiday rush, make sure to stop and check each website you are shopping on to ensure it is secure before you input any personal or financial information.  A secure website’s URL begins with ‘https’. Also, look out for the padlock symbol in the address bar just before the web address. With these in place, information entered into the site is mostly encrypted and cannot be intercepted by anyone. And avoid clicking on links that promise unreasonably great deals; if it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.

Don’t Overshare

Always give as little information as possible – and be alert to the kind of information the site or merchant is requesting for. Provide reputable sellers with the minimum personal information necessary to complete a purchase. If a merchant requests more information than you are comfortable providing, halt the transaction and close the website immediately. Also, before committing your information to a site, you should take time out to read their privacy policy to find out where and how your information will be shared.

Update and Protect your Passwords

As passwords are a requirement to create an account on various online platforms, they are usually also a target for hackers looking to gain unauthorized access to your accounts. Updating your passwords and protecting them, is one of the easiest ways to stay safe while shopping online.  It is recommended that you update your passwords regularly and store them securely.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

As you may know, passwords alone no longer provide adequate security. As an online shopper, it is important to activate two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication on your payment channels- a security process that requires a purchaser to verify themselves through two or more authentication methods to complete a transaction. It serves as an extra layer of protection between you and any fraudulent transactions. For example, if your debit card details have been compromised, while you should contact your bank immediately, if you have 2FA activated on your bank account, you will know when someone attempts a transaction using your debit card.

Only Shop Via Familiar Websites and Trusted Payment Gateways

For clarity, payment gateways are the final part of the online shopping process where payment is collected to conclude the transaction. Once you click “Checkout” and begin entering your payment details, that’s where a payment gateway takes over. Trusted payment solution providers such as Unlimint are responsible for handling this part of your transaction, by working with the merchant or your bank to ensure that within the blink of an eye, you go from certified window shopper to confirmed owner.

While shopping online has brought a lot of fun and convenience, the sensitive information we share could put us at risk of scams. But by following these security tips and more, you can save yourself a lot of heartaches and enjoy the thrills of shopping online this season. Don’t be driven by so much FOMO that you take risky chances while shopping online.

Happy holidays!

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.