How to shop safely online: 5 easy, security measures to take

Your calendar is quickly filling up this time of year. And you definitely don’t have time to let fraud stop you in your tracks. You can keep scams out of your holiday plans by following a few simple rules while you hunt down the best gifts for the people you love.

Use Wi-Fi At Home

One of the perks of shopping online is staying in the comforts of your own home. But if you decide to search for gifts at a coffee shop or the airport, be wary that a fraudster could be watching.

A Man In The Middle Attack occurs when people use public or insecure Wi-Fi networks. Hackers can position themselves in the middle of your connection and watch your activity without you knowing. If you enter your address, social security number, or card number, they can clock it and compromise it.

The best way to protect your personal information is to shop on secure Wi-Fi you trust.

Protect Your Passwords

Hackers are getting smarter about decoding passwords at an alarming rate. That’s why you should regularly update passwords and enable two-factor authentication on your accounts.

But coming up with passwords can be overwhelming when you have to keep up with the rules. Should you use a variety of old passwords? How many characters should it be?

Here’s the most important rule: do not use the same password for multiple sites. If one password gets compromised, all your accounts get compromised. So, how do you keep track of your passwords securely? Avoid writing your passwords down in a notebook or a piece of paper. If you lose that sheet, you lose all your passwords.

Instead, use password managers built into your computer and browser. Password managers will remember information for all of your accounts and can also generate unique, secure passwords.

Shop On Sites You Know

It can be tempting to click on social media ads that promise low prices or search for sites with unique gifts. But remember: anyone can pay for an ad or put up a website. Shopping big-name stores online is the best way to secure your financial information. You’ll also find better deals that will deliver the perfect gift you’re looking for.

Check that the sites you’re shopping on are safe by looking for secure website indicators, like “HTTPS” in the URL or the padlock icon next to the URL, before making a purchase.

It’s also an excellent time of year to support local businesses if you’re looking for a unique present you can’t find at a big-box store. Ultimately, you should trust names you know when you’re rushing through your holiday shopping.

Utilize Digital Wallets

Your transactions have several layers of security protection – your bank, the retailer, and your card company. Still, you should never save your card information on a website. And, as we’ve discussed, there are still risks with entering your card information directly at check-out.

The solution? Digital wallets add an extra layer of protection for your transactions. Digital wallets encode your card information, so your information won’t be compromised if a store gets hacked. Digital wallets like Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay or Google Pay™ are options that help secure your financial information. They can also expedite your online shopping while keeping your information safe or in-person shopping by tapping your phone or smartwatch when you check out.

Plus, Quick Bonus Tips

  • Remember to monitor your accounts regularly for suspicious transactions. You can enable transaction notifications/alerts to keep track of this quickly.
  • You should also keep your app, phone, and computer software up-to-date for the latest security measures.
  • Be cautious about clicking on links or providing personal information in emails, especially those claiming to be from banks or online retailers. They could be phishing scams. Legitimate organizations typically won’t request sensitive information via email.


New scams are popping up every day, and we want you to be in the know. Listen to Dream, Plan, Live: the Bank Midwest podcast for more tips to protect yourself from fraud with the experts Bank Midwest.

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