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Security measures to take while shopping online

Holiday Shopping Snafus

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are quickly becoming the biggest ecommerce days on the retail calendar—and with good reason! The convenience of comparison-shopping, the exclusive offers for online shoppers, and the ease and comfort of browsing from home all have obvious advantages over in-store insanity.

But with the rise of online shopping comes the added risk of online security screw-ups. Be a savvy online shopper this holiday season, by following these basic dos and don'ts.

DON'T use your debit card

While it may seem convenient to shop with the card connected to your main account, debit cards don't always carry the same kind of purchase protection or identity theft security as your credit cards, making it even easier for hackers to gain access to your info, or worse, drain your account dry.

DO look into virtual credit cards

These temporary and one-use cards are offered by a number of banking institutions, and have lower credit limits and a more immediate expiration date. The retailer will never see your real credit card information, so you can shop worry-free within a window you set.

If your bank or credit card company doesn't offer this option, or you're a more frequent online shopper, stick with a single credit card dedicated specifically for online purchases, and check your statement regularly to track any unwarranted activity.

DON'T do your shopping in public

While free public Wi-Fi can seem like a technological godsend, it's a crapshoot when it comes to your personal security. Because public Wi-Fi is, well, pubic, you and your cybercriminal counterparts have equal access to the same network. Because most public spots don't encrypt your information, the passwords and credit card numbers you enter while connected are all the more exposed.

DO use a secure network

If you are going to make a purchase online, stick to virtual window-shopping until you're home and connected to your own trusted and secure network. For additional protection, update to the latest browser and turn on your browser's phishing protection feature. Most browsers will have some kind of fraud or malware protection functionality—just check your preferences to ensure this option is enabled.

DON'T get lazy

While it can be convenient to create an account with each online retailer you visit, it's better to keep your personal and financial information safe by entering it manually each time. As hundreds of customers of one popular shoe retailer learned last spring, there's no guarantee of a company's data security.

Avoid daisy-chaining your passwords together, and don't use the same combination to access various accounts. While a single password or password formula may be easier for you to remember, it makes it that much easier for criminals to crack the code.

DO be vigilant

Change your passwords regularly—experts recommend switching it up every 3-6 months—and be sure you're using a different password for all of your online accounts. Use double verification wherever available, and look for a password management program like LastPass or PassKeper to keep track of each. Already a Webroot SecureAnywhere™ Internet Security Plus or Complete customer? Top-notch password management is included with your product—take advantage of it.

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