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2021 Holiday Shopping Tips

‘Tis the season to shop with many consumers starting early to take advantage of brand sales and to ensure stock is available and packages arrive on time in light of supply-chain issues and projected late deliveries. In fact, 68% of shoppers surveyed by Deloitte said they plan to begin shopping before Thanksgiving. While fun (and stressful), holiday shopping also comes with heightened risks. Following are some holiday shopping tips to share with your clients, family and friends to protect against these risks.

Top 5 Tips for Holiday Shopping

1. Beware of Cyber Risks

Prompted by the pandemic, over the 2020 holidays, online shopping in the United States grew 32.2% from 2019, totaling $188.2 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. E-commerce sales during November 2020 reached $100 billion for the first time, said Adobe. In another first, online spending exceeded $1 billion daily during the 2020 holiday season and 50 days topped $2 billion.

The online shopping trend is expected to continue with 40% of retail executives expecting double-digit online channel growth, according to the Deloitte holiday retail survey. Digital spending is now a holiday habit. The average amount of spend for online purchases projected for 2021 is $924 compared to $440 for in-store purchases.

While making gift purchases online, it’s important to be aware of holiday hacking and security risks. About 24% of shoppers, according to credit reporting company Experian, said they experienced fraud during the 2020 holiday season. Of those fraud victims, about one in five said the fraud happened while they were using a credit card to shop online.

2. Buy from Reputable Sites Online

Here are several ways to protect against data breaches, identity theft and other cyber risks while making online purchases, courtesy of LifeLock:

  • Use strong passwords and a password manager. Use a password that contains letters, both upper case and lower case, numbers, and symbols. Also, use a reputable password manager that will generate, store and autofill secure passwords for all your accounts.
  • Make sure all software and your operating system are updated.
  • Only shop on secure sites. Look for the little lock icon in the corner of your URL bar which tells you that the website has privacy protection. The URL of a secure site will start with “https.” These websites mask any data you share, typically on pages that ask for passwords or financial information.
  • Use only official retailer apps to avoid sketchy shopping apps laced with malicious software or malware. Criminals use these apps to infiltrate smartphones to install malware or commit fraud.
  • Pay with a credit card, not a debit card. A cybercriminal who gets ahold of your credit card number doesn’t have direct access to your actual money as with a debit card. Federal law limits your liability on unauthorized credit card charges, and most major credit cards offer $0 liability. However, you need to spot the fraud and report it in a timely way.
  • Don’t save your credit card information on your accounts. Keeping your credit card information on a retailer’s website could leave you vulnerable to future data breaches.
  • Consider using a digital wallet or app for a second layer of protection. With Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, or others, you can increase your transaction security. The digital wallet obscures your payment card information from the merchant.

Also, never use public Wi-Fi to make purchases. In addition, ignore strange emails so you don’t fall for scam holiday shopping ads or messages. Avoid clicking on links in messages or ads that tout seasonal deals that could infect your computer with malware or take you to a fake shopping site. Delete the emails, navigate away from the ads, and only shop from sellers you know.

3. Beware of Fake Delivery Scammers

With the rise of online shopping and home deliveries also comes a spike in the number of thieves stealing packages right off your doorstep. Forty-three percent of Americans, according to C&R Research, said they had a package stolen in 2020 compared to 36% in 2019. Almost two-thirds (64%) say they’ve been struck by “porch pirates” more than once. Consider installing motion sensors to help deter thieves. If no one will be home to accept your package, consider shipping to your office or another safe place. Amazon, FedEx, and UPS also now have shipping lockers available for secure deliveries.

In addition, some scammers use a “fake delivery scam” to try to steal private information. They’ll send a message, typically an email or text, advising you that there’s an issue with delivery for an item you ordered. The message may appear like it’s coming from FedEx or UPS. Because it’s the holiday season, scammers are betting that most people will have ordered something recently and will click on a link and possibly even provide their credit card number to “fix a problem” that doesn’t exist.

4. Hide the Merchandise

If you’re taking the day to shop in-store and leave your purchases in the car as you make your rounds, beware; thieves are on the lookout to score during the holiday season. Take note of your surroundings as you are loading up the car and make sure gifts are not in plain view. Lock all gifts in the trunk. According to the FBI’s most recent crime report, 27% of larceny thefts in 2019 were from motor vehicles.

5. Insure Expensive Items

The holidays are a time for big-ticket purchases including laptops and other electronics as well as fine jewelry. It’s important to check how much coverage is available under your homeowners policy. Most policies have caps on valuable items. Inland Marine policies and homeowners riders will cover high-priced items from jewelry to laptops and photography equipment.

Enjoy the holiday and protect yourself against the rise in cyber risks and other types of theft during this season! For more digital holiday shopping tips, check out our related blog post on Cyber Monday risks.