Three tips for staying safe while shopping online

Nov. 30 is Computer Security Day. Interestingly, it’s also Stay Home Because You’re Well Day. I can hear you now: “Wait a minute! That’s a Sunday, not a typical workday! Why?” Well, it’s not a coincidence. On Nov. 30 most of us will likely be home recovering from Thanksgiving affairs — and preparing for Cyber Monday. So it’s not a bad chance tor remind everyone to think about computer security the day before we’ll all probably be hitting our keyboards, searching for deals.

Have you given any thought to how to stay safe while shopping online? No? Well you’re in luck because I have. Here are three things you can do to stay safe.

1. Understand when not to debit. >>Click to Tweet!>> The Federal Reserve’s Regulation E addresses debit card transactions and limits consumer liability for fraudulent purchases to $50, provided you notify the bank within two days of suspecting your card was stolen or your card number was compromised. Some banks may limit consumer liability to zero dollars. The problem, however, is that your debit card is usually linked to your checking account, and despite the limited or zero liability, it’s going to take some time to sort things out and get your money back from the bank.

2. Lock it up. >>Click to Tweet!>> Verify that the website address, the URL, begins with https — notice the s — and not http on any page that requests sensitive items, such as personally identifiable or credit card information. Also, look for a lock in the web browser, not the web page. The lock is the standard way most browsers inform you that your session is secure. When in doubt, click on the lock to verify. Or just stick with what you know and rely on familiar shopping sites.

3. Don’t shop naked. >>Click to Tweet!>> You’re asking for it if you shop online without decent antivirus and firewall. Despite the pundits, antivirus is not dead and will protect you and your computer from known viruses. That means you have to make sure your antivirus solution is actually updated and running. It also wouldn’t hurt to update your web browser to the most recent version, which will have the latest protections available. And seriously, you may not want to shop naked because you never know if that webcam will turn on!

Of course, this list isn’t all-inclusive. Visit Stay Safe Online or the U.S. Computer Emergency Repose Team websites for additional tips to stay safe while shopping online.