Online shopping tips to keep your digital dollars safe

More than half of all Canadian shoppers will be making holiday purchases online this year, according to a new survey.

But if you’re going digital to avoid long lines, make sure you’re looking after your private information. Here are a few tips before you hit the online stores.

Keep cyber-shopping private

It might be just as easy to do your Internet Christmas shopping from your phone or tablet as it is from your desk, but PC Magazine warns you to think twice about where you make your purchases.

Using public Wi-Fi – at a cafe, a hotel, etc. – could sacrifice your privacy. There are plenty of apps out there to help you cyber-shop, but there are also several apps to help hackers watch you shop.

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Download your shopping apps from a trusted service such as Google’s Android Market, Blackberry AppWorld or Apple App Store.

Too good to be true

Deals that seem too good to be real could be just that – one in five cyber-shoppers will fall for amazing deals that lead to them purchasing counterfeit goods.

According to Neilsen, you’re most likely to fall for bogus goods when using search terms such as “discount” or “clearance.”

Double-check the site is legit. Many fraudsters use website names that are similar to common brands. You don’t want to buy a Somy Playstation from Future Store.

Online reviews can be a help and a hindrance

Customer comments can help offer some pros and cons of the product you’re considering buying.

But some of those reviews are fakes put out by companies and retailers.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has even sued and fined some retailers for putting out deceptive reviews.

Watch this video to find out more.

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Choose your plastic wisely

The tech and social media blog Mashable suggests holiday cyber-shoppers always pay with a credit card online, rather than using debit payments.

Credit cards are more secure and allow you to dispute charges if someone gets a hold of your information and makes purchases using your account.

Using a debit card payment makes your banking information vulnerable to thieves and the bank may not be so helpful in retrieving your stolen virtual cash.

Easy as 1-2-3

Did you choose a password that’s easy for you to remember? Well, it’s probably not that hard for hackers to figure out either. has updated its list of the the 25 worst passwords for 2012.

Some of them seem too simple to be true, but unless you’ve made your password hard to crack, you could leave yourself vulnerable.

Make sure yours is unique to you and tough to figure out by choosing a combination of small and capital letters, numbers and symbols.

Hackers are pros at cracking passwords. You don’t leave your keys in the car door when you go to the old-fashioned mall, so don’t give hackers the same easy access to your account information while shopping at the cyber-mall.

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Practice safe cyber shopping

Before you put your slippers on and head to the cyber shops, run your antivirus and spyware programs to make sure they’re up-to-date. 

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