LASATA: Protect your privacy

Published 1:50 pm Friday, December 3, 2021

I hope everyone was able to set aside some much-needed time away from their busy lives and enjoy the holiday with their families.

As we continue into the holiday season, many are shifting their focus toward finding the perfect gifts for those they care about.

The age of online shopping provides us with a great deal of convenience, but also opens the door to scams and other activities that holiday shoppers need to be aware of. As the internet and technology become more prevalent in our daily lives, scammers are creating new scams that can be very difficult to detect or avoid.

Fortunately, following simple precautions and exercising good judgment while online can go a long way in keeping your identity safe. Make sure your passwords are unique, regularly updated and are not re-used — and do not share them with anyone. Don’t click on links that are unfamiliar or open any emails from an unknown sender — as scammers often create official-looking emails that mimic or include actual logos from reputable businesses or organizations in an effort to trick people into downloading software that can gain access to their personal information.

While shopping, it is also important to pay in cash if possible, but if you’re shopping online or it is otherwise not possible, be sure to use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards are generally more secure and do not provide direct access to your account like a debit card does. Many financial institutions have also made the transition to chip technology on cards that offers additional protection.

Also, be sure to research websites you are considering purchasing from and keep an eye out for the “HTTPS” designation preceding the website name. The “S” indicates that you are using a secure, safe connection as you make a purchase.

I’d like to add that many of these concerns can be avoided by shopping local and supporting small businesses in your community. Shopping online and finding holiday deals can be tempting, but I encourage people to stop into the mom and pop shop downtown this season and help them take care of their families as they have helped take care of yours over the years.

Hopefully these tips provide some additional guidance for shopping online to help people find the perfect gift this season!

 

Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Coloma, represents the 21st state Senate District, which includes all of Berrien, Cass, and St. Joseph counties.