FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — There’s been a decline in retail store shopping as more Americans are checking out online. According to the Associated Press, online sales jumped 11.7 percent over Black Friday, up from last year’s 10.9 percent gain.
With more and more people going to their desktop or tablet to make a purchase, it’s important to keep personal information safe and secure.
Here are five don’ts for online shopping to help protect yourself:
1. Don’t overlook the basics.
It’s easy to just open your browser and go for the item you’ve been eyeing but, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) suggests you first update your browser and security settings. Make sure you have the latest security updates installed and your anti-virus/ anti- spyware software is running. IDHS also recommends installing a firewall before you begin online shopping.
2. Don’t be tempted by the free Wi-Fi.
A cyber security expert told the AP that open Wi-Fi is probably the least secure place to check prices or shop. The connection can be used to steal credit card or other personal information.
3. You know that password you always use? Don’t.
Keeping track of multiple passwords for different social media accounts, email, work and home computers can seem overwhelming, but it’s worth it. Don’t use the same passwords for online shopping websites that you use for logging onto your home or work computer. Also, complex passwords safeguard personal information including credit cards and billing addresses. IDHS would steer you to use a password with at least eight characters, numbers, special characters, and upper and lower case letters. If you don’t have time to keep track of the different passwords, there’s an app for that. Here’s a list of recommended password managers from LifeHacker.
4. Don’t use a debit card.
Not all plastic is created equal. If an online criminal gets your debit card information, they have the potential to empty your entire bank account, according to the IDHS. However, credit and charge card transactions are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Cardholders are typically only responsible for the first $50 in unauthorized charges.
5. Don’t fall for the deal that’s too good to be true.
There’s no such thing as a 60-inch television for $20. Don’t be persuaded by an obscure website that seems like it has a great deal. IDHS suggests avoiding unknown Web pages because malicious software could be downloaded. Limit purchases to sites you know and trust. Anyone with questions about a store should check with the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.
For more tips from the IDHS on how to shop secure, click here.