Holiday Season

How to Protect Your Privacy While Buying Gifts Online

NBC 7 Responds looked at ways to keep your information safe during the holiday shopping season

NBC Universal, Inc.

The holiday shopping season will look different this year. Because of the pandemic, more shopping will be done online. That means there's more chances for people to steal your personal information.

"We really want people to be leery of those discounts and those deals that look too good to be true," said Eva Velasquez with Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).

Already the ITRC has seen a 21% increase in online shopping. As the holidays approach more and more people are expected to join in on the deals. If you're hunting for hard-to-find items like game consoles, Velasquez says beware of new or strange websites.

"You're going to be providing your credit card information, your address, potentially your email address," Velasquez said. "You may even be asked to set up a password so you are creating an account."

Velasquez says once they have that information, it's easy to steal other personal information.

"They'll then take your email and password and try to break into other accounts," Velasquez said. "You should absolutely have a different password for all of your online accounts."

If you've never heard of the company, Velasquez says do some quick research on them. You can check Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, or just do a search of the company's name. There are also a few other ways to protect yourself.

"You can set up an email account that you only use for online shopping," said Velasquez. "You can also set aside a credit card you only use for online shopping."

Velasquez says using a credit card is much better than a debit card because there are more consumer and fraud protections in place. You can also make unique passwords and use a password manager to help you keep track of them.

"The time you spend doing that is going to be far less than the time you spend helping them unwind an identity crime or compromise case," Velasquez said.

She also recommends avoiding public WiFi hotspots while shopping online.

"Do your homework," Valesquez said. "Don't overuse the same password on multiple accounts or keep them on a list on your computer."

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