Despite higher costs for just about everything, holiday spending is expected to be about 8% higher than last year.

The National Retail Federation predicts consumers to spend an average of $832 on gifts and food this year than in 2021.

And much of that shopping will be done online and in public. Cybercriminals are big fans of holiday shopping, particularly when people shop with their smartphones and away from their home internet.

It’s tempting to look for deals when you’re at a coffee shop or waiting in the carpool line. It’s important to guard yourself and your information when you shop.

For example, shopping on public WiFi, like a coffee shop can put your credit card information in the hands of bad guys who are also connected to the WiFi network.

We’re warned when we log on that those networks are unsecured, but a sale’s a sale, right? Cybercriminals who know what they’re doing can intercept usernames, passwords, and even credit card numbers without you knowing it.

When shopping out in public, use your cellular provider’s network instead.

Other do’s and don’ts:
● If you’re using a laptop, turn on your phone’s personal hotspot and connect to it instead
of a public WiFi network.
● Use a VPN or virtual private network when you shop with a credit card online. These
encrypt what you’re doing and give your computer a secure, anonymous connection.
● If you’re shopping on a phone, download, and shop with the store’s official app.
● Do not use a debit card when shopping online. Debit cards are connected directly to
your bank account. If the number is stolen, you may not get your money back
● If you’ve uploaded and saved a debit card before, you should remove it.
● Credit cards have protection. If you shop at eBay, use Paypal. It’ll protect the purchase if
you don’t get what you order.
● Don’t store your credit card number with stores you’re unfamiliar with.
● Only shop on websites that start with “HTTPS:”
● Review your credit card statements throughout the holidays.
● Beware of targeted ads on social media. Check out the companies before you purchase
anything by searching for them online.
● And I can’t stress this enough. Do not use the same password you have for Facebook or
any other site for your bank or credit card account.