blackfridayYou may have trouble passing up a good sale – whether it’s on Black Friday or any other day. However, your excitement about holiday gift savings, doesn’t match that of criminals eager to get their hands on sensitive consumer information.

It’s obvious from all the recent security breaches at popular retailers that safe online shopping is more important than ever. That’s why you should be extra cautious about how and where your information is used.

Here are five ways you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim of Black Friday theft this holiday season:

  • Only shop on websites that contain a “https://” prefix. Holiday shopping on sites that include the “s” in their web address means that you’re engaging in secure online shopping. The information exchanged between you and the website is encrypted and difficult for hackers to retrieve.
  • Don’t make purchases on unsecure wi-fi connections. An unsecure wi-fi connection is a playground for identity theft hackers. Only shop and use your information on secure, password-protected networks.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when punching in card numbers. When using a debit card at a retailer that requires a PIN, process your transaction as a credit to avoid using the PIN or slightly cover the keypad while typing. Typing openly is a common way in which your information could be stolen while holiday shopping.
  • Only use your credit card for purchases. Credit cards offer greater security against fraud. When unauthorized purchases occur on your credit card, the funds in your bank account are not directly compromised and you are rarely held liable for the fraudulent activity.
  • Don’t click on bogus email links. Your email may be bombarded with holiday gift savings and other eye-catching deals. Avoid clicking on emails from unfamiliar senders as they may be Black Friday scams and can carry viruses that affect the security of your computer.

If you want to be extra safe, sign up for a credit monitoring service that comes with fraud or data alerts. Shop wisely this holiday season and enjoy all the discounts that Black Friday may bring. Save receipts from gifts you purchased as charity donations to share later with your  tax adviser. Our “Shopping Smart on Black Friday and Cyber Monday” infographic offers holiday shopping tips, like how to survive stakeouts, most popular products, and ways in which you can save on retail prices and taxes.

Disclaimer: Tax Lounge is an informational source for industry news and related topics. We take every effort to provide honest and accurate tax information, but this information should not be a substitute for professional tax advice. Use our office locator to find your local tax office or click here to subscribe to our free newsletter.