27 Jun

Holiday shopping security tips

Business Security: Holiday shopping security tips

The holiday season is a time for gathering with friends and family and finding a one-of-a-kind gift for that special someone. It's a time of joy, cheer, and goodwill. It's a time when children drift off to sleep with visions of new toys, and parents conspire to hide presents where curious little eyes can't find them. And it's also a time when criminals dream up new ways to take advantage of frazzled and distracted holiday shoppers. Here are some business security: holiday shopping security tips to help you and your family enjoy a happy, healthy holiday season.

Take only what you need when you go shopping
Don't carry large amounts of cash, and try to limit the number of credit cards you carry. If you carry a purse, keep it on your shoulder and close to your body. As an extra precaution, wear it under your coat or jacket so it's not an easy target for pickpockets in crowded stores. If you carry a wallet, put it in your front pocket when you go out for a holiday shopping trip.

Dress down
Opt for casual, comfortable clothing when you do your holiday shopping. Flashy or expensive-looking clothing and jewelry can attract the wrong kind of attention from potential thieves. Put on some sweats or jeans and save the designer ensemble for the next holiday party.

Shop during the day
It's tempting to go holiday shopping in the early morning hours to get the best deals or late at night to beat the crowds. But, there's safety in numbers - and department store parking lots are much safer in the daylight when there are lots of people around. Avoid shopping after dark, and try to bring a friend or family member with you when you can.

Be aware of your surroundings
The key to holiday shopping safety is awareness. Criminals target people who look distracted, so make sure you know what's going on around you. Stay alert and don't be afraid to tell mall or department store security personnel if you feel like you are being followed.

Purchase gift cards from reputable sources
Gift cards are always popular holiday purchases.From specialty shops and department stores to restaurants and movie theaters, there's a gift card out there that's perfect for someone on your list. But beware of a deal that seems too good to be true, especially when visiting online auction sites. A $200 gift card for $20 just doesn't make sense - chances are the card is fake or stolen.

Use strong passwords when money or sensitive information is involved
As the power of computers increases, so does the ability of the bad guys to crack passwords. Experts say 8 or even 9 character passwords are no longer strong enough. They say 12 character passwords that include both numbers and special characters are now the minimum needed to stay secure.

Debit cards should never be used when shopping online
The problem is the laws that limit credit card losses do not cover debit cards. The losses can be catastrophic. Another trick is to use a separate credit card when shopping online. Even if your online credit card number is compromised, the effect on your life will be minimal.

Another way to limit credit card risk is to use a 3rd party service to pay for purchases
While PayPal is the company to beat in this field, others include Google Checkout, Wirecard, Moneybookers and more. The point of using a 3rd party service is they don't use your credit card number to make payments. That means your credit card number is on a lot fewer places on the internet, and your risk is a lot lower.

When you're ready to make a payment at a website, be very sure that your connection is secure
An icon of a padlock should be visible in the bottom right corner of the screen or in the URL bar. In addition, the website address should start with "https." If you see neither of these signs, you shouldn't trust the website. Another security tip: never save passwords in your browser. It's the first place criminals will look should they get into your computer. One last tip - always be sure to log out of your browser when you're done shopping on a website.

Use caution when shopping online
According to the different information in different websites, about 114 million people will avoid the crowded shopping malls and do at least some of their holiday shopping online. If you plan to purchase some of your holiday gifts online, make sure that you have updated anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on your computer. And never buy something from a site that you don't trust.


Here's a video of Holiday shopping security tips.


Amara Fontaine

Amara lives in San Diego, CA with her husband of 28 years. She enjoys spending the weekends with her husband, children and grandchildren at their favorite beach.

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