8 Tips to Protect Your Credit Card This Holiday Season

Gearing up for some online shopping this holiday season? With Black Friday and Cyber Monday only a couple weeks away, now’s a good time to ensure you’re set up for efficient, secure shopping as you check things off your holiday to-do list. Here are 8 tips to keep you safe – and productive – as you shop online:

1. Don’t store cards in browsers or online accounts.

Shopping online involves a lot of tedious forms, which means a lot of repetitive typing as you fill out your name, your address, your phone number, your email, and so on, with every single purchase you make. LastPass Form Fill saves time by filling all that for you. Storing and encrypting your credit cards with LastPass means you don’t need to put your credit cards at risk by storing that information in your web browser or your online accounts.

2. Shop at familiar companies, or research well.

If it’s your first time shopping with a vendor, conduct some research to ensure it’s a legitimate seller. Look for merchant reviews online or ask for feedback amongst your trusted peers. Look for social proof of an unfamiliar vendor by searching for them on Facebook or Twitter to see how legitimate they are. Familiarize yourself with the vendor’s refund policy and contact information, and look at the privacy policy to understand how your information may be used.

3. Look for a locked HTTPS connection.

Before entering your personal or financial information on a website, ensure the website is using a secure connection with SSL. LastPass Form Fill warns you before entering information on a non-HTTPS site. You can also look in the browser’s URL bar to see that there’s a padlock showing, and that the web address begins with HTTPS, confirming that you have a secured connection on that website. Using a secured connection ensures your data is transferred safely when you make a purchase.

4. Give as little personal information as you can.

Many websites won’t let you checkout without confirming some personal details. Choose the option to checkout as a “guest” when you can, or ensure you only fill out the required fields and nothing more. Understand what information they’re asking for and how that data may be used according to their privacy policy. If a website makes it optional to store your credit card, don’t keep it on file. The less information the website stores about you, the less there is at risk of being leaked in case of a data breach.

5. Create a strong, random password when you register.

Every single online account you sign up for should have a different password. When using a password manager like LastPass, it’s easy to create a new one with the LastPass Password Generator as you’re registering for a new online account. You can also login to existing online accounts and update old passwords at any time. And since LastPass does the remembering for you, you don’t have to worry about forgetting any of those new passwords – even if you don’t shop at those sites again for a year or more.

6. Keep an eye on credit card statements.

As soon as your credit card statements are available, review them for any unauthorized charges. If you print receipts from online purchases or save the records sent via email, it’s easier to compare your bank statements against your online purchases. If there’s any discrepancy, it’s best to contact your bank and report the issue immediately.

7. Only connect with secure WiFi.

As you’re submitting your personal and financial information online, it’s important to use an Internet connection that you know is secured. Even if you’re connecting to the website via HTTPS, on an open network it’s much easier to be tricked or phished into revealing passwords, credit cards, and other personal information you submit to a website. You don’t know how well the hotel or cafe secured their open WiFi, so it’s better to leave any transactions and sensitive account logins for later.

8. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

It’s thrilling to chase those great deals, especially on Cyber Monday, but be wary of anything that sounds so good that it’s unbelievable from vendors you don’t know. Cyber criminals try to lure shoppers with unbelievable prices, fantastic rebates, or free promotions – including mobile apps that claim to give you perks, like free texts or calls, in exchange for logging in or posting something. Unsolicited emails, texts, calls, or social media messages could be an attempt to get you to hand over an account login or credit card information. When in doubt, play it safe.