More and more consumers are opting to skip the craziness of Black Friday and make their purchases from the comfort of their own homes.

Dubbed Cyber Monday, in response to retailers who offered tremendous savings to online shoppers after that first holiday rush, it has grown into a time when retailers are sometimes selling more than on Black Friday. Best of all, it doesn’t require waiting in line! Unfortunately, the last couple years have made the public and the cybersecurity industry painfully aware of the damage a hacker can do during the busy holiday shopping season.

So how do you safeguard your personal data from a cyber thief and still manage to get all the items on your list? By being smart about how and where you shop.

  • Make sure to have high-quality, up-to-date anti-virus software installed. If you plan to do any online shopping, invest in some software and install it to make sure there are no known threats already in place in your computer.
  • Make sure your network is secure by password protecting it. This will help prevent a hacker from accessing your Wi-Fi and potentially uncovering your personal information. A strong password on your home network is an especially important step before you enter your credit card information on retailers’ websites.
  • Look for the security information of online vendors. In the address bar (where the name of the website is located at the top of your screen, followed by “.com”), make sure you see the letters, “https:” to indicate that it’s a secure site. You might also see a little padlock symbol in the same line, which also tells you it’s secure.
  • For your online retailer accounts, choose a strong password that has a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and don’t forget to throw in a mixture of upper and lower case. More important, though, is the need to make unique passwords, meaning you don’t use the same password for multiple websites.
  • Finally, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to be proactive about protecting your accounts and identity. Check credit reports and account activity routinely during the coming weeks to make sure there is no unauthorized activity, and remember to alert the police if you have reason to believe that your identity has been compromised. It’s important to let law enforcement know about threats as they occur, and banks or insurance companies can require a police report before agreeing that you’re not responsible for any fraudulent charges.

Another easy (and free!) protective measure this holiday season is to download the free ID Theft Help app from the Identity Theft Resource Center. You might not need it today, but it’s a comfort to have when those identity questions and concerns do pop up. Or, give us a call at our toll-free, 24/7 call center at 888-400-5530. Have a happy and safe holiday!