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'Tis the season for scams: Tips for safe holiday shopping online

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Posted at 10:38 AM, Nov 24, 2021

HENDERSON, Nev. (KTNV) — The holiday shopping season is here and bad guys will be up to no good, so it's up to you to protect yourself. 13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean looks at the three rules you should follow when shopping online.

Bev Pennant loves shopping from the living room of her Henderson home. This mother of three says it just makes sense.

"Especially with a newborn and a toddler, it's just so much more convenient than having to drag the kids to the store," Pennant said.

But she knows there are some very real dangers when shopping online. IT expert Curt Miller, an adviser for Ergos Technology Partners, agrees.

"The internet can be a really dangerous place," Miller said.

He says far too many people don't take online security seriously.

"The latest stats are one out of four [people] will become victims of some sort of fraud this year alone. It's that high — 25 percent," Miller said.

RULE NO. 1: NEVER STORE INFORMATION

Miller says when shopping on sites you know and trust, the first rule to staying safe is never store your personal information online.

"Not storing your credit card when it says 'would you like us to keep your credit card for next time to make shopping easier?' Say no," he advised.

RULE NO. 2: STRONG PASSWORD

When creating an online account with a retailer, be sure to have a strong and unique password. Passwords should be at least 12 characters, with upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special symbols.

Miller says password managers are the easiest way to generate and store passwords for all your online services.

"The password manager will recognize that you're on that site and automatically populate your information, your username and password. So you don't even have to remember it," he said.

But even a strong and unique password isn't enough these days, he warned.

RULE NO. 3: MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

Everyone should use multi-factor authentication, Miller says. Why? The IT world refers to it as "something you know, something you own."

"Something you know is your password. You enter your password. Then something you own is like a cellular or mobile phone," Miller explained.

After entering a password, multi-factor authentication sends a special code to a second device, confirming you're the person trying to login. Millers says this extra layer of security might seem extreme at first, but it's necessary.

"It's a war. As fast as we can come up with things like two-factor technology, they come up with other means of tricking people. That's usually what it is. The weakest link is usually the people," Miller said.

Pennant says she's determined not to be a victim and even takes online security a step further. She tries to never enter her financial information into the websites where she goes shopping.

"Use the PayPal option for a lot of the sites, because that way they have to go through PayPal. My card is secure with them. I don't have to put all that information into those websites," she said.

Click here for more information about payment systems and click here for more details on password managers.

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