Protecting Personal Information While Online Holiday Shopping

online privacy
Posted at 8:30 AM, Nov 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-12 08:30:00-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Tis the season... to be hacked?

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans plan to do almost half of their holiday shopping online this year, and one in five of those who own smartphones will use them to purchase holiday merchandise. That's the  highest since NRF first asked in 2011.

So how can you protect your personal information while shopping online?

Ben Graybar from Hancock Bank joined us on WTXL Sunrise for some advice. 

Graybar says the most important thing to do is "check yesterday." That means looking at your banking statement each day to see if there's anything suspicious that pops up from the day before.

Also, be aware of the differences in fraud protection for personal use or shopping for your business. If it's for a business, the bank isn't required to pay back what you may lose. He recommends using a credit card instead of a debit card. Also, if you use a debit card, Graybar recommends opting out of overdraft protection, so there's not an unlimited resource of money pouring in to a hacked account.

Graybar says different passwords can be your first line of defense. Be sure to require a password for every device. Always use strong passwords that are at least  six to eight characters long and avoid using the same password for multiple sites. Never allow your operating system to save your passwords or User IDs.

Also, be sure you're never giving out private data. If a website asks for personal information, check that the site can be trusted. Don't forget to protect sensitive data on social media, as well.

Graybar says reporting issues is key. If and when you encounter a security threat, know what to do and who to engage on it.

And it can all start with awareness. Be cyber smart and know about the latest scams that are making their way around the Internet. Only install software or add-ons you need. Beware of "free" -- only download apps and software from legitimate sources.