DNS Made Easy gives holiday online shopping Do's and Don’ts

Experts weigh in on how to keep your information and bank accounts safe

Let the holiday shopping begin – from the comfort of your own home, office or handheld device.

But, before you go off racking up holiday expenses, make sure you aren’t gaining Internet thieves as followers and leaving your bank accounts open to crime.

The experts at DNS Made Easy, a company built on web security and layers of protection against threats and viruses, offers these online shopping tips:

Tip 1: Don’t use debit cards. Using a credit card instead of a debit card can help save your cash, literally. Credit cards offer protection from identity theft that debit cards don’t. However, if someone gains access to your debit cars, they have direct access to your bank account. A thief can get in and out with your money before you know it. It’s likely you’ll get part of that money back, but possible it can take a while, and you won’t get it all.

Tip 2: Verify Website Security. There are also different levels of security available online, and it is a good idea to be aware of them all. Some online web sites don’t offer secure shopping. That means criminals can capture everything you enter onto a form on those sites, including your personal and credit information. If you shop online, limit yourself to secure sites. Here’s how to tell if a site is secure: A secure web site starts with HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://. Secure sites will also have a small lock icon in the lower right corner of the screen.

Tip 3: Know the Business. There are online companies whose brand name is recognizable, such as Amazon.com. However, if you are shopping at a store you don’t know, it’s important to establish their reliability. Look for the name, company registration details, contact details that include an e-mail, postal address and telephone number and a clear indication of where the company’s headquarters is based. If this isn’t on the web site, you might want to shop elsewhere.

Tip 4: Know the Privacy Policy. Reputable companies will be open about how they collect data from and what they do with it. Look for a privacy policy and learn about whether the company uses your information beyond the purchase transaction. For example, if the company passes on information to third party merchants. This is how you can end up getting spam mail if you are not careful.

Tip 5: Don’t Store Information Elsewhere. Many shopping sites, even the major ones, offer you the ability to save your credit card information on their servers to speed the shopping process. Think one click shopping! It’s definitely faster, but there are some risks to maintaining your personal information elsewhere. If a company that you’re shopping with has a data breach, your personal information could be put at risk. It takes a little longer, but instead of storing your information on some server that you have no control over, just enter it yourself each time you shop.