top of page
  • Writer's pictureTara Grey

Safety Tips When Shopping Online for the Holidays This Year

The holiday season is here again, which means holiday shopping. With supply chain issues and the threat of not getting gifts on time in the news, gift buying has already begun for some people that are trying to get out ahead of things.

Online shopping was already growing pre-pandemic, and since COVID, it’s now surpassed in-store shopping. According to a survey on U.S. consumer behavior, 57% of US shoppers are planning to shop online this year, with just 43% planning to shop in person.

Shopping online from your PC or iPad is convenient, but it is not without risks. If you don’t follow smart shopping safety guidelines, you can end up a victim of credit card fraud.

In 2020, U.S. consumers lost approximately $246 million due to online shopping fraud, according to reports made to the FTC.

This doesn’t mean you can’t shop online; it simply means that you need to take precautions to keep your credit card number and other personal data secure when you do.

Here are some safety tips to ensure a happy holiday shopping season.

Only Shop Websites You Know

There are millions of scam websites on the internet, and they grow during the busy holiday shopping season. These scam sites can be set up for outright credit card fraud or they send poorly made cheap imitations that do not match the photo on the website, and it’s nearly impossible to get your money back.

You should only shop with legitimate retailers that you know. Stick to the major shops (Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc.) or any smaller retailers that you know to be legitimate.

Don’t be taken in by a website you’ve never heard of promising a price that is a fraction of the going rate for an item. This is often a scam to lure you in.

Use PayPal to Pay Where Possible

Many websites allow you to pay with your PayPal account rather than putting in your credit card. It’s worth it to set up a PayPal account for this reason if you do a lot of online shopping.

PayPal keeps transactions secure and offers buyer protection should you not be happy with a purchase and have trouble getting your money back. It also will put funds on hold and not turn them over to the seller if there is a problem with a transaction.

Using PayPal to shop online keeps your credit card details more secure because you are not providing them to as many websites. PayPal doesn’t give the retailer your credit card details when they process the transaction.

Delete Your Payment Details as Soon as You Place Your Order

Sites like Amazon, Walmart, Chewey, and others will automatically save your card details when you check out. Some people are afraid to delete them for fear their order won’t go through.

Let’s clear up this misconception. You do not have to leave your payment card details in your profile for your payment to be processed. Once you go through the checkout process and receive your order confirmation, you can safely delete those details, and you should.

While it may be convenient to store your payment details in an online store, it leaves them at a higher risk of being stolen. Large retailers are often the target of data breaches. Target and Macy’s both suffered database breaches a few years back that exposed sensitive customer information.

It’s best to always delete your card details as soon as you finish checking out. This means that you may have to look for them. They are usually stored in your profile, under something like payments, payment methods, or wallet.

Don’t Shop Online When On Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is unsecured, and you should not shop online or enter passwords or sensitive data when using it. Because anyone can use free public Wi-Fi, hackers often connect and use special software that can spy on the activity of others on the same network.

If you happen to be away from home and need to shop or log into a site, switch off your Wi-Fi on your device so that your connection is through your mobile carrier instead.

Visit Online Retailers Directly, Not Through an Email Link

Phishing scams ramp up considerably during the holiday shopping season. Some of the common scams that you’ll see include:

  • Sale offers from stores you don’t know

  • Fake sale offers that pretend to be from stores you do know

  • Fake order notices for things you never purchased

  • Scam shipping notices asking you to check on a shipment

It’s best to avoid links in emails whenever you can because phishing emails can look incredibly realistic. Instead, if you plan to shop online, go directly to the retailer’s website by typing in the URL. If you see some big sale in an email, then that same sale should be prominently displayed on the store’s site if you visit it directly if it’s legitimate.

Need a Tutoring Session in Online Safety?

Need to find where to delete payment details or are you looking for a refresher course in spotting phishing emails? Come to CompuTara for personalized tutoring in online safety and fraud prevention.

Schedule a computer session today! Call or text me at: 862-368-4893 or Email me here.


References linked to:



bottom of page