Safe Online Holiday Shopping: What You Need to Know

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Safe Online Holiday Shopping: What You Need to Know

Dec 14, 2020

Online shopping was and remains a fantastic way to shop even before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but now that in-store shopping is not recommended, online shopping has become the standard way to shop this holiday season. You can take advantage of all the digital deals and holiday sales from the comfort and safety of your own home, but that doesn’t mean online shopping is risk-free. Fraud and scam efforts double during the holidays, so before you dive into online holiday shopping, follow these tips and tricks to ensure you keep yourself safe while browsing for the season’s hottest deals. You don’t need any special technical abilities or knowledge; this guide will tell you what you need to know so you can confidently and safely take advantage of all the Internet has to offer.

Update Everything
Before you do anything new with your computer, including starting online shopping, be sure that all of your programs and systems are up to date. Windows and other commonly used programs will typically send you a notification when updates are available. Windows or operating system updates are the most important to keep up to date as each update makes your computer more secure. Windows updates should also update your Windows Defender, which is a basic antivirus program that comes with Windows. Ensure your browser is updated, as each update also improves the performance and security of that specific browser. Double-check any programs or apps you regularly use to see if there are updates; once your computer is all up to date, you are ready for the next step.

Additional Antivirus Protection
Even though most computers come with a basic level of virus and malware protection, it is prudent to add another layer of protection. There is a range of consumer antivirus programs with a smattering of different features to suit your needs. Special features will come with a price tag, but many reliable and reputable antivirus programs are free. A free antivirus will be more than enough protection for a general Internet-user, but there is an antivirus program out there for every need.

Shipping And Delivery Best Practices
Shopping online does mean you must wait for orders to ship and arrive at your doorstep. Finding the deal might feel like the most challenging part, but many things can go wrong in the shipping process that make the ordeal much worse than it needed to be. As a customer, the best steps you can take is to ensure you enter your shipping information correctly and shop from reliable seller sites that use shipping APIs like the UPS time in transit API so you can trust that your package is on its way to the correct destination. If you have a problematic address, delivery services often mess up, double-check with your local mail carrier to see if there is a different format that will make your address easier for shipping systems to understand. Make sure your house number is clearly visible, and consider putting a large bun beside your door to at least hide packages a little bit if you are not home to take them inside quickly.

Simple Security Tricks
There are a million smaller things to watch out for when shopping online, and it is hard to cover each of them, but here are a few of the smaller tips and tricks you should keep in mind while shopping online:

  • Do not click on links for sources you do not know. The holidays are the time of year when scammers ramp up their efforts, so do not click on links promoting incredible deals from any source you do not know and trust. Emails can look very authentic but are actually scams. Look for telltale signs of an attempted scam like misspellings, grammar mistakes, no company contact information, contact information doesn’t like the publicly listed information, or vague wording that seems off.
  • Do not shop on public wifi. A public connection is vulnerable to malicious attacks that could compromise your payment and contact information. You also never know who is watching on a public network. It is much safer to only shop from your private, password-protected home network where you control who can see what.
  • Create strong and unique passwords for all your shopping accounts to protect your information. It can be tempting to use the same password across all accounts, but if one account is compromised, then all your accounts are now compromised. Consider using a password manager to keep track of all your passwords, so you don’t need to memorize many different passwords.

Shopping online is easy and convenient, but you should take steps to keep yourself safe while you shop. Use the suggestions, tips, and tricks in this guide to ensure you can enjoy all online shopping has to offer without falling pretty to the dark side of the Internet.

Meet The Author:

Nick Rojas

Nick Rojas

Nick Andrew Rojas is a business consultant turned journalist who loves working with small and medium-sized companies. He has contributed to many publications such as Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. In his spare time, he hangs out at the beach with his dog Presto.


The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Association for the Self-Employed or its members.

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