Submitted by Jon Freeman

The National Retail Federation reported that more than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday in 2017. About 58 million people shopped online only, while 51 million shopped exclusively in stores. The remaining 65 million consumers shopped both online and in stores. We have gotten to the point where more people are shopping online during the Thanksgiving holiday shopping season than are physically going to and shopping at brick and mortar stores.

Shopping online can be a great convenience. But nothing can ruin your holidays quite like being a victim of cybercrime. Before you get online to go shopping over the holidays here are some ways to stay safe according to an article from Consumer Reports:

1. Update Everything.
The best way to inoculate any device you shop with is to make sure it is running up to date software. That means update everything from the operating system to the apps you use to shop to the web browser you use.

2. Strengthen any weak passwords.
You should especially strengthen passwords on all shopping, email, and bank accounts. Also, try to not use the same password for more than one account.

3. Install antivirus software.
If you have not already installed antivirus software do it before you do any online shopping.

4. Enable multi-factor authentication on accounts that offer it.
Once you do this you will need two pieces of information to log into the account from a laptop or phone. The first is your password. The second item is typically a one-time code sent to your smartphone or email. This will help keep hackers from being able to access your accounts. Multi-factor authentication goes by a variety of names. For example, your google email account may call it “2-Step Verification” and it is “two-factor authentication” for Facebook accounts.

To find more information about personal finance feel free to visit Gwinnett Library’s  Personal Finance Guide.