Give away gifts, not your online identity this holiday season

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(WTNH) – Online shopping can be dangerous when sharing private information. Norwalk Police provided a list of safe online shopping tips for this holiday season.

Trust your gut. Don’t shop on sites that give you a bad feeling. If a website is asking for too much personal information, making you feel uneasy, quit the transaction and leave the site.

Be cautious with mobile devices. Most cell phones don’t have anti-virus software like your computer. This makes it easy for criminals to send malware to your phone, and steal the information you enter.

Don’t use public wi-fi. Most public hotspots don’t encrypt your data, making it easy for hackers to swipe your identity with the right software. Any information sent through the internet can be picked up by strangers.

Check credit card statements frequently. Using a credit card is the smartest way to shop online. Credit card companies have to reimburse you for fraudulent charges, so check your statements often.

Don’t click on links in emails. Many phishing scams send out emails that look like legitimate websites. Instead, type out the address in your browser to make sure it’s where you think you’re visiting.

Look for HTTPS in the URL not HTTP. The added “S” means your information is being secured. HTTPS uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) which encrypts your information, making sure it’s only sent to the intended recipient. Other signs a site is secure is if there is a closed lock or unbroken key at the bottom of the screen.

Change your passwords regularly. To ensure your personal information and bank account are safe while shopping, change passwords 3-6 months. Also make sure not to use the same password on multiple sites. This makes it easy for hackers to break into your accounts.

Use a virtual credit card number. Some banks offer temporary credit card numbers that allow you to set a dollar amount and time frame for a purchase online. Allowing you to shop securely without exposing your real account number.

Check the company’s privacy policy. Most of us skip or skim over this part. It is important to know your personal information can’t be sold to third parties.

Update your browser. Every new version of a browser upgrades their security, the same goes for ant-virus software. With older browsers, hackers have already discovered and exploited the cracks in its security.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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