5 tips for safe online shopping this holiday season

(BPT) - Shopping online during the holidays can simplify gift-giving but also leaves you vulnerable to potential fraud. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, thousands of people become victims of holiday scams, robbing them of their personal information, money and holiday spirit.

While you know that online scams happen, you may think it's unlikely to happen to you. You're not alone. According to a recent fraud research report, nearly half of those surveyed were confident they could recognize a scam. However, nearly 3 in 4 people typically responded to common terms and phrases fraudsters use in scam emails and texts.

Make sure you're shopping safely this holiday season by using the following online shopping security tips.

1. Pay securely online

As you shop online, take a moment to look at the website's URL to ensure that it begins with "https." The "s" at the end confirms a secure connection. You can also look at the corner of the address bar for a padlock symbol, which shows there is a secure connection between your browser and the website's server.

For Visa card members, you can use click to pay with Visa for an extra layer of protection. This feature allows online shoppers to quickly, easily and safely finish their holiday purchases. You can rest easy knowing there are multiple layers of security that help protect you from payment fraud.

2. Pay securely in-app

While using the same passwords for your shopping apps may be easier, it is not the safest way to shop this holiday season. If a data break occurs on just one of the apps you use, all your other accounts may also be compromised because they use the same password.

Create a strong, unique password for each account that is hard to guess. Better yet, switch to fingerprint or facial recognition for account login and payments when possible.

3. Look out for phishing scams

Be careful of unsolicited and suspicious emails, texts or phone calls. They may try to steal personal information like your account number, username and password.

Phishing messages tend to use phrases like "act now," "exclusive deal" and "free gift" to create a sense of urgency and reward, according to the fraud report.

If you receive something that looks and sounds like a phishing scam, don't click on any links unless you can verify they'll take you where they say they will.

4. Update system and application software

Has it been a while since you've updated your technologies' software? If so, you're leaving yourself vulnerable to fraudsters while shopping for your friends and family.

Before you begin your online holiday shopping, update the software on your computers, tablets and phones. Installing the latest software helps patch any known vulnerabilities that allow cybercriminals to access your important financial and identity information.

5. Turn on purchase alerts

Purchase alerts are a simple but important security tool. By turning on this feature during your holiday shopping, you'll receive near real-time notifications of transactions on your account. This can help you confirm legitimate purchases and alert you to potential fraud while you check the last few items off your shopping list.

Using these five simple tips, you can shop safely while making the season jolly and bright for the ones you love. Make this holiday shopping season even safer with Visa. To learn more about how you can shop and pay for gifts safely, visit Visa.com/Security.

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