How to Keep Your Personal Data Safe this Holiday Shopping Season
Wed, Dec 11, 2019
By: Jim Beran
The holiday shopping season is here and it’s important to consider security when you pull out your credit card to buy gifts.
At Gilmore Services, many of our clients ask us:
What are the best ways to keep my personal data safe this holiday season?
We’re always happy to answer that question because data security is our specialty. Here are some things that can help you to protect your personal data, both on and offline.
Use a Mobile Wallet
When it comes to keeping your personal data safe as you shop for the holidays, technology is your friend. One tool that we recommend is the mobile wallet. A mobile wallet is a secure app that stores and encrypts credit card information.
Because mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay generate new codes for each payment, they’re difficult to steal. They become even more secure when you require two-factor authentication (like a fingerprint) to access your phone. You can use them in person in many stores and online.
Shop Only from Secure Websites
Google Chrome identifies secure websites with a lock icon that appears to the left of the URL. One quick and easy to way to protect your personal data is by buying only from sites that Google has identified as secure.
You should know that secure sites have an HTTPS certificate installed. The certificate ensures that data transmitted to and from the site is encrypted and secure. Buying from a site without a certificate could expose you to identity theft or fraud.
Use a Password Manager
We all know that the best passwords are passwords that are difficult to guess. They usually include:
- At least eight characters
- A combination of upper case and lower case letters
- At least one number
- At least one special character or symbol
The issue for many of us is that passwords that meet these criteria are difficult to memorize. The solution we recommend is using a password manager such as LastPass to generate and protect secure passwords for every website you use.
You’ll log in to LastPass with a secure master password. Once you’re logged in, you’ll be prompted to set secure passwords. The program will also let you know if you’ve duplicated passwords by prompting you to change them.
Shop with Trusted Retailers
When you’re shopping online, it’s easy to find offers and products from new websites, including ones that you’re not familiar with at all. While we understand the temptation to grab a great deal when you see it, there are risks involved with buying from a new website.
What we suggest is confining your online shopping this holiday season to sites you know. While any retailer may be at risk of a data breach, you’re more likely to be protected (and made whole in the event of a breach) if you shop with a respected retailer. Steer clear of unfamiliar sites and always make sure that you recognize the URL of a site before you shop. In person, pay with cash if you’re shopping at a crafts fair or a store you don’t recognize.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks
If you’re in the habit of connecting to your local library’s Wi-Fi or the network at your local Starbucks, be careful when you’re online shopping. While you might feel safe, the fact that you’re shopping on an open Wi-Fi network could put your personal data at risk.
Your best bet is to do your online shopping from your home Wi-Fi network, which should be protected with a secure password. That way, you can use your credit card without worrying that a stranger will be able to steal it.
Holiday shopping shouldn’t put your personal data at risk. The tips we’ve included here will help you buy gifts for the people you love the most without taking unnecessary changes.
Need assistance protecting your data? Click here to learn how Gilmore Services can help!