The holiday countdown is on, and more than half of holiday shoppers plan to make purchases online during the 2019 season of giving. Unfortunately, it’s also the season for online scammers to make a killing — typically, at your expense. Never make purchases on public Wi-Fi You might be tempted to take your shopping spree to a coffee shop for a cup of joe. Keep in mind, Wi-Fi networks use public airwaves. With a little tech know-how and the freely available Wi-Fi password at your favorite cafe, someone can intercept the data you send and receive while on free public Wi-Fi. Shopping online usually means giving out information that an identity thief would love to grab, including your name, address, and credit card information. Bottom line: It’s never a good idea to shop online or log in to any website while you’re connected to public Wi-Fi. Try shopping with the extra security of a VPN Still can’t resist the lure of shopping online while sipping that peppermint latte? If you must shop online on public Wi-Fi, consider installing and using a VPN — short for virtual private network — on all mobile devices and computers before connecting to any Wi-Fi network. A VPN creates an encrypted connection between your smartphones and computers and the VPN server. Think of it as a secure tunnel your Internet traffic travels through while you browse the web, making the data you send and receive safer from interception by nearby hackers. Use strong passwords and a password manager If someone has the password to your account, they could log in, change the shipping address, and order things with stored payment data while you get stuck with the bill. Help keep your account safe by securing it with a strong password — “Santa123” won’t do. Here are some tips on how: Use a complex set of at least 10 lowercase and uppercase numbers, letters, and symbols. Don’t use personal information that others can find or guess, such as birthdates, your kids’ names, or your favorite color. Don’t use the same password — however strong — on multiple accounts. A data breach at one company could give criminals access to your other, shared-password accounts. Consider using a password manager to
generate and safely store those strong, complex passwords.
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