Online shopping is common practice these days. Twenty years ago, the idea of purchasing something online and having it shipped directly to your door via UPS or FedEx might have been a novelty, but in 2015, it's harder to find someone who hasn't done some amount of online shopping than it is to find people who have. In fact, Black Friday and Cyber Monday were bigger than ever in 2014 when it comes to online purchases; Walmart even broke company records, recording more than 1.5 billion page views between Thanksgiving and the following Monday. Clearly, the demand for online shopping isn't going anywhere.

With this demand, however, comes risk, as it represents an opportunity that can be exploited by hackers, identity and credit card thieves, and other criminals. With the advent of sync devices, the need for online security is greater than ever. Special precautions must be taken, particularly when you're accessing personal information across multiple devices, in order to protect your identity and banking accounts. Thankfully, there are some tried-and-true methods for doing so. Follow these simple yet effective steps and you'll be on your way to having a safe online shopping experience this holiday season.

Tips for Online Shopping

Unfortunately, though online shopping is more secure than ever, there is still some small degree of risk involved if you don't take proper precautions. To secure your accounts and personal information, stick to these tactics:

Use Familiar Websites

If you are concerned about your personal information being compromised, one of the simplest things that you can do to safeguard against this eventuality is sticking to trusted and reliable websites. Though recent events, like the Target and Home Depot hacks, have shown that no information is absolutely safe against hacking attacks, you can still trust that websites like Amazon, or even the aforementioned Walmart, have the mechanisms in place to minimize this risk.

Never Divulge Personal Information

No eCommerce site should ever request personal information about you, such as your birthdate or Social Security number. If this information comes up during the checkout process, or as part of an account verification check, it should raise a large red flag. Such requests are indicators of a phishing scam, and you should report such activity to Google immediately. Look for an SSL certification in a website's domain name (indicated by an HTTPS://) and input only relevant banking or credit card info.

Keep Your Sync Devices Updated

Modern sync devices – like your smartphone, tablet, or laptop – are incredible machines, capable of putting your entire digital world at your fingertips, no matter where you are, or which machine you're using. Gone are the days of having to use one device to view one file, and a different device to view another. Thanks to the Cloud, sync devices make information universally accessible. Of course, this synced nature also makes them a potential security risk. In order to protect your info, keep your devices updated, consider storing some sensitive information locally only, and maintain up-to-date security software.

Monitor Your Accounts

This is an easy one: monitor all of your accounts, particularly during the holiday season, in order to ensure that you're not being charged for fraudulent purchases. If you notice a bill statement that is unfamiliar to you, or think that something has been charged to your account in error, report it to your bank immediately so that they can take action. Being vigilant will help you prevent your account from being heavily compromised.

Stay Vigilant. Stay Safe

Online shopping is safer than ever. And truth be told, there's more reason to shop online than ever before too. The selection is nearly limitless, the convenience often can't be beat, and the savings can't be ignored. So shop with confidence – follow these simple yet proven steps for a safe shopping experience online!

Jessica Oaks

Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves covering technology news and the ways that technology can make life easier. Follow her on Twitter @TechyJessy.

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Jessica Oaks

Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves covering technology news and the ways that technology can make life easier. Follow her on Twitter @TechyJessy.

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