The holiday season is here and that means many of us will be shopping for gifts and food for celebrations with family and friends. Whether you plan to do your shopping online or in person, on Black Friday, Cyber Monday or last minute, you’ll want to make sure your accounts and personal identity stays safe.

This is cybercriminals favorite time of the year, so it is important to be wary so you can stay merry. Here are eight tips to help keep your accounts safe this holiday season.

1. Shop on Websites You Know and Trust -- Limit your shopping to reliable, established online retailers and websites of business you know. Sites with solid reputation are less likely to trick you into sharing sensitive information or engage in other risky behavior.

2. Avoid Shopping on Public Wi-Fi – While shopping online at your favorite coffee shop may be relaxing and convenient, it is not cyber-safe. Your personal information sent over a public Wi-Fi can be at risk if intercepted. Instead, use a virtual private network (VPN) or your phone as a hotspot.

3. Only Order from Secure Websites – To keep your personal information private, look for a small lock icon in the corner of the URL field. This helps ensure that your information is protected while shopping online.

4. Protect Your Personal Information -- When making a purchase online, only provide information required to complete the transaction. Even though it is convenient, don’t save your credit card number with the online retailer.

5.Keep Track of Your Spending -- Monitor your credit card statements regularly. Even small charges you don’t remember making can be a sign of fraud. Notify your credit card issuer immediately to report unknown charges.

6. Set Up Account Alerts – Monitor your credit and debit card account activity by signing up for alerts via email and text through online banking.

7. Update Your Passwords – Now may be a good time to change or update your passwords. The strongest passwords include capital letters, numbers, and symbols. Be sure to use different passwords for every account.

8. Think Before You Click -- Pay attention to emails and text messages you receive. Don’t open emails from unknown senders or click on links if the message seems suspicious.

For more information about keeping your information safe and secure, schedule an appointment here to speak with a Town & Country representative.

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