Top tips for safe online holiday shopping

Do crowded malls and long lists sap your festive spirit before you even begin your holiday shopping? You’re not alone. Online shopping is rapidly growing in popularity across Canada, thanks to its convenience and simplicity. But online fraudsters could ruin your holidays if you’re not careful. Be sure to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud.

Shop smarter online with these 7 tips

  1. Don’t click on links to “deals” that are sent via email. Ugg boots at 80 percent off – only if you buy today? Use your common sense. If it’s too good to be true, it is probably a "phishing" attack. Shoppers who click through are directed to a fraudulent web site developed to steal their sensitive data. If you want to check on the deal’s legitimacy, type the URL directly into your browser instead.
  2. Shop only from trusted sources. Stick to well-known online retailers. Use apps downloaded from trusted sources such as Android Market, Apple App Store or the Amazon App Store. When you download the app, it will ask for various "permissions". Don’t just click yes; answer carefully. Does a shopping app really need access to your contact list?
  3. Ensure your network connection is secure. Most homes and workplaces offer a secure network connection, but public Wi-Fi can be hacked, and your passwords, billing information and sensitive personal data can be exposed. If you don’t see “https” in the URL, then the website you’re browsing isn’t a secure one. If using a public connection, limit yourself to browsing and price comparing, rather than buying. If you need to make your purchase using a mobile device, use your carrier’s data network rather than a Wi-Fi connection.
  4. Install and update your anti-virus software: Just as you’d protect your home or wallet from thieves, you need to protect your device and data from intrusion. Make sure your PC or laptop is protected with an up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware program. And for holiday shopping on the go, don’t forgot to protect your smartphone with a security app.
  5. Lock your devices. Many people leave their devices unlocked, which can expose their personal information to thieves. Most devices request that you lock it with a password or code; take advantage of this feature to keep your information secure.
  6. Pay safely: Instead of using your debit card when shopping online this holiday season, for better fraud protection, use a low-limit credit card or PayPal to pay for your online purchases.
  7. Monitor your accounts: If you notice suspicious activity on your bank account or credit cards, report it right away. It’s also a good idea to regularly review your online account settings and change your passwords often with unique combinations that can’t be hacked easily.

Compare prices and save

Looking for the best price on your online purchase? Use price comparison websites when you shop. Or, compare prices on your mobile device using online shopping apps. Remember, these sites only have access to the products and prices of retailers with whom they are partnered, so it’s a good idea to check a few price comparison sites when searching for something specific. It’s like window shopping from the comfort of your own home! Happy holiday shopping!

The information in this article has been adapted from the following web sites. For more on this topic, visit:

Online Shopping on the Rise, according to Canada Post
12 Fraud Awareness Tips from Global News
8 Tips for Safe Online Shopping
Safe Online Shopping


Other topics of interest:

The information and advice are provided for informational purposes only. The Personal shall not be liable for any damages arising from any reliance upon such information or advice. The Personal recommends using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, expert advice.