It is the time of the year again: the holiday shopping season is at its peak. Unfortunately, your (online) shopping tours or charitable gifts could end in a very unpleasant way, as this is the high season for scammers too. So it is very essential to recall the most preventive measures for staying safe and keeping your shopping merry and joyful. Of course, you should follow those tips also outside the holiday season, but now is a good time to remind you again on the importance of it!
How to be safe during online shopping:
Use a safe network environment. Do not make payments on a public WiFi and make sure you have protected your computer against viruses. If you want to use your computer in public places, use a VPN as an additional security layer.
Be suspicious when the price is very low, or the shopping site unknown! Some sites look similar to your favorite store but are only collecting your credit card information. The money will be gone, but you never get your order. Always check the web-address carefully, read customer reviews and complaints about an unknown shop – or stay with your favorite and trusted merchants.
Use a strong password for your shopping – do not use the same password as you are using for your online banking! Create a different password for each site. Use a password manager, if you cannot remember all your passwords.
Never use a debit card for the payment, as it puts your whole account balance at risk. A credit card is better, using a digital wallet like Google Pay or Apple Pay, or linking the card to a service like PayPal is even better. By the later way, your credit card details do not pass to the merchant at all.
Ship to a secure location – also package thieves are very active now!
But do not fall for scams with package delivery notifications: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/12/fa-la-la-la-fake
Be cautious when making donations to charities: Scammers try to imitate charities and using the generous spirit of the season for their benefit. Do not let your money go to the wrong hands!
Do your research about the charity organization before you give money. Check whether it is legit. http://www.ftc.gov/charity can help you with your research.
Take your time: Never make a contribution when someone is coming to your door or calls you for a donation. Do your research first, and pay only after you are sure this is a legit organization.
Never pay with cash, gift cards, or wire transfers.
Do you want to test your knowledge on how to spot a scam: Take the online quiz from AARP!
Last but not least: Have a holiday budget! Avoid regretting your purchases after the holidays by giving yourself a spending limit. List how much you are able and want to spend on gifts, charities, decoration, food, travel, etc.
With that, I am wishing you safe and peaceful holidays!