1. Go straight to the site: Type a store’s Web address directly into your browser instead of using a search engine to retrieve it. Cybercriminals plant malicious links that look like popular sites within the first few pages of search results.
2. Be strict about passwords: Use a different password for each site on which you have an account; do not allow your browser to store passwords for you; and use a password manager.
3. Look for the “signs of security”: On sites where you’re making a financial transaction, look for “https” in the address bar and a padlock icon in the browser Status Bar. On sites where the retailer uses extended SSL validation, look for the address bar to turn green on secured pages.
4. Keep Paypal your pal: If you use Paypal, check the accounts that Paypal debits from frequently to quickly detect fraud. When using plastic, shop with a credit card instead of a debit card so you can stop payments immediately if you suspect fraud.
5. Watch for seasonal scams: Be wary of spam emails claiming to be shipping confirmation or undeliverable package alerts that require you to open an attachment. Delete any message that claims to contain tracking information, but which lacks a tracking number in either the subject or body of the message. The safest way to track a package is through the shipper’s Web site, or the online store where you made the purchase.