The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, but it's also a time when online threats and scams are at their peak. As you shop for gifts, book travel, or search for the best deals, it's crucial to prioritize your online safety. Here are seven essential tips to help you stay safe online this holiday season.
1. Look for Trustmarks and Earned Certifications
When shopping online, the first thing to check is the trustworthiness of the website you're visiting. Trustmarks, also known as trust badges or seals, are symbols that indicate a site's commitment to security and reliability. Look for well-known trustmarks like TrustedSite to ensure that the website has taken security seriously and has earned certifications. These trustmarks often mean that the website encrypts your personal information and has passed security assessments. Be sure to click the trustmarks to verify they are authentic and learn more about what they mean.
2. Check for Consumer Reviews from Trusted Third-Party Sources
When considering a purchase from an online retailer, it's wise to seek out consumer reviews from reputable third-party sources. Platforms like Trustpilot provide a wealth of customer feedback and ratings for various businesses. These reviews offer insights into the experiences of other shoppers, helping you gauge the reliability and quality of the products or services offered. By consulting independent reviews from trustworthy sources, you can make informed decisions and reduce the risk of falling victim to fraudulent or unreliable online vendors.
3. Ensure the Site Uses an SSL Certificate
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates are essential for safeguarding your personal information online. When shopping or providing sensitive data, look for the padlock icon in your browser's address bar, or ensure that the URL begins with "https://." The "s" in "https" indicates a secure connection. If a website doesn't have this extra layer of encryption, your data may be vulnerable to interception.
4. Be Cautious of Deals That Seem Too Good to Be True
During the holiday season, it's common for scammers to lure shoppers with enticing offers that seem too good to pass up. If a deal appears too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of websites offering extreme discounts, free items, or exclusive deals that you can't find elsewhere. Always double-check the legitimacy of the site and consider whether the offer is within the realm of reason.
5. Use Strong and Unique Passwords
Creating strong, unique passwords for each online account is a fundamental step in online security. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, and avoid using easily guessable information like your name or birthdate. To manage your passwords effectively, consider using a password manager, which can generate, store, and autofill complex passwords for you.
6. Stay Informed About Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are prevalent year-round, but they tend to increase during the holiday season. Be vigilant when you receive unsolicited emails or messages that ask for your personal information, login credentials, or payment details. Legitimate companies will never request such information via email. If you receive a suspicious message, contact the company directly through their official website or customer service.
7. Regularly Update Your Software
Outdated software, including your operating system, web browser, and security programs, can leave your device vulnerable to attacks. Keep your software up to date with the latest security patches and updates to ensure you have the best protection against emerging threats.
Bonus Tip: Use the TrustedSite for Chrome Extension
For an extra layer of online safety during the holiday season, install the TrustedSite Chrome extension. This free tool helps you quickly assess website trustworthiness by providing key details, such as a business's security practices, legitimate contact information, and data protection measures. Furthermore, it highlights websites that are TrustedSite certified, indicating rigorous testing and a commitment to your security. With this extension, you can shop and browse online with added confidence, making your holiday season safer and more enjoyable.
While the holiday season is a time for giving and celebration, it's also a prime time for online threats and scams. By following these tips, you can protect your personal and financial information while enjoying the convenience of online shopping. Prioritize your online safety and stay vigilant to ensure a happy and secure holiday season.
If you're a website operator looking to bolster your trust and credibility for Black Friday and beyond, check out our 15 essential ecommerce trust indicators for Black Friday & Cyber Monday.