If you think you’ve got some time before the holidays are officially here, you’d be wrong. Black Friday deals are already in our Inboxes – and it’s not even Black Friday yet! Costco has had Christmas merchandise out since September. And Amazon Prime packages are piling up on porches as parents get a head start on holiday shopping. Along with the fun and good cheer of the season, however, comes a darker side with hackers, phishers, porch pirates and other not-so-jolly characters working hard to take advantage of distracted shoppers and deal-seekers.

To keep your season merry and bright, we’ve rounded up a few tips for using the internet to protect your finances, purchases, home, and even your happiness. 

Protect your finances

Start by protecting your phone: Crowded malls, busy restaurants, and popular civic events can lead to distracted situations where your phone is at risk of being stolen or hacked. If someone is able to access your phone, they can also access personal and financial information. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to secure your phones with strong passwords and security software.

Online shopping is convenient, and you can find great deals. Just follow these tips:

  • Don’t save your credit card information on shopping sites, even ones you know and trust. If that company is a victim of future hacking, your information will be there for the taking. Always click the “no” box when asked if you want to store your credit card information.
  • Only shop on websites you know and trust – and avoid websites with poor designs, blurry photos and deals that are too good to be true.
  • Be cautious of special offers you receive in social media as well. Phishing links have migrated out of Inboxes and into social media where people aren’t as on guard.

Protect your home

Package theft is a growing problem as Amazon, Walmart, Target and online shopping in general offers delivery of pretty much everything these days. A great number of social events also means you’re away from your home more often, something thieves are happy to take advantage of.

  • Outdoor security cameras can be positioned to monitor out-of-the-way places that are susceptible to break-ins or other issues. Wire-free, small, and easily hidden out of sight, these are great for monitoring back doors, side windows, storage units, farm equipment sheds, barns, etc.
  • Video doorbells like the popular one from Ring are also a great way to use technology to protect your home while away. When someone pushes the Ring video doorbell, an image opens immediately on your smartphone, so you can see and speak to whoever is there, giving potential intruders the impression you’re home even if you’re halfway around the world. Ring features built-in motion sensors that detect movement, trigger instant mobile alerts and initiate video recording.
  • Remote light controls can also be programmed or controlled remotely to turn lights on and off throughout home on your command using your smart phone. Some can also be linked to doorbells, triggering lights to come on when bells are rung, making it seem like someone is home.

Follow the guidelines we’ve provided here, and above all, if you feel that a website is asking for too much information or an offer is too good to be true, you’re probably right.

P.S. Here are some links to article we’ve posted in the past for more details and instructions if you think someone’s been naughty and not so nice:

Signs you may have been hacked – and what to do next