At our house, the UPS and FedEx trucks are working overtime. Every year, the amount of shopping I do online grows. I am not the only one. My kids are making their wish lists and ordering online too. While online shopping saves us from fighting for a parking at the mall, shopping online is not without its own risks.
When shopping, I am an Amazon gal. I stick to a few well-known sites. My kids are a little more adventuresome. They will look high and low for the perfect Doctor Who Mug or an Alexander Hamilton t-shirt. Without credit cards, they have to come to me to finish their purchases. On occasion, I have vetoed a purchase due to a dodgy looking website.
One day, they will be on their own with their own accounts. I will not be beside them vetting each site. They need to start learning how to tell if a site is safe and secure and how to keep their information private. The online mall is great place to find deals and last-minute gifts, but if kids are not careful, it is also a great place to have their identity stolen, their parents’ identity stolen or their computer hacked.
10 Tips to share with your family about shopping online
Kids are much more adventuresome online than adults. When it comes to giving out credit information, kids should stick with well-known sites. If they find a new site, they should check out its reputation before ordering. They should check for customer reviews as well as seals from VeriSign, BBB or Truste.
Check for the S.
Sites that collect credit card information should begin with “https” not “http”. The S indicates the site is safe and secure.
Turn off tracking.
Most websites they visit install a cookie on their computer. These cookies store the sites they visit and share them with ad networks. Other family member may quickly figure out their present when a picture of the purchased item follows them in ads across the internet. For holiday shopping, kids may want to enable Do Not Track or use a private browsing mode.
Limit personal information.
Buying online does require kids to share payment information such as name, billing address, and card number. Payment information does not include their social security number, cell phone number or other sensitive information.
Do not click on links within emails or banner ads.
Sometimes these links do not lead to the company website. Criminals set up these fake sites to steal information. When shopping, kids should always go directly to the company’s website.
Create long and strong passwords.
Shopping online can require setting up an account. Kids should make sure their passwords are strong with a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols. They also should not use the same password for all of their accounts.
Do not share passwords.
It is one thing to share your Facebook password with your best friend; it is quite another to share your parent’s Amazon account password. Remind kids the importance of keeping these passwords secret.
Make purchases at home.
Credit card information should only be shared on a private connection. Kids should not use public Wi-Fi at school or at the local Starbucks. They also should not buy gifts on public computers at the library.
Keep software updated on all devices.
Software updates often contain important security patches. If using a retailer’s app, make sure you are using the latest version.
Check credit card statements.
During the holidays, parents should periodically check all of their accounts and report any suspicious activity. Before calling their credit card company, parents may want to check in with their kids and make sure they are not the ones making unauthorized purchases.
By following these 10 simple holiday shopping rules, both kids and adults can find great deals online and keep their information secure.