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How to Stay Safe When Shopping Online

One of the biggest changes in the holiday season over the past few decades is that now most people do their Christmas shopping online instead of at brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, according to Gallup, 93 percent of U.S. holiday shoppers will buy at least some gifts online, and 47 percent will buy all or nearly all of their gifts online. Not only does this save consumers time, but also it’s very convenient for people who have a little more trouble getting around — including seniors! Shopping online puts the world at your fingertips, but it also exposes you to certain risks if you’re not careful. Scroll down to review some tips for how to stay safe when shopping online.

Tips for Safer Online Shopping

Only shop on secure websites.

How do you know if a website is secure? Look at the URL, i.e., the web address. It should start with “https” instead of “http.” That “s” at the end lets you know that the site is secure and encrypted. So, if you make a purchase on the site, you can feel confident that your personal information and credit card number won’t be hacked. In addition, it’s best to shop at familiar sites with good reputations. If you’ve never heard of a merchant, do some research before making a purchase.

When creating an account, always use a unique password.

Many online retailers require or recommend that you create an account. An account can be convenient for tracking your purchase, checking your order history, and saving your information for future purchases. However, it’s important that you create a unique, strong password for every website. If you don’t, as soon as a hacker steals your password for one site, they’ll have access to all the other sites on which you’ve used that password. If you, like most people, have trouble remembering so many complex passwords, consider using a password manager like LastPass.

Don’t trust any retailer that asks for your social security number.

A reputable online shop will never ask for your social security number to complete a transaction. Period. If you’re asked for yours, abandon ship!

Avoid online shopping when using public Wi-Fi.

Your information is at greater risk when you use public Wi-Fi. Only shop at home or when using the Wi-Fi of someone you trust (a family member, your senior living community, etc.).

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Simple yet wise advice if you’re wondering how to stay safe when shopping online! If you see an extremely discounted price, you should be suspicious first and foremost. In addition, never trust offers you see on social media that say things like “Click here to claim your free iPhone!” They are almost always scams.

Shop with a credit card or PayPal.

Debit cards do not have the same security protections as credit cards and PayPal. If your debit card information is stolen, the thief could drain your entire bank account. If your credit card information is stolen, you can dispute the fraudulent charges, and you won’t be responsible for any unauthorized purchases.

Keep an eye on your credit card activity.

You should always keep an eye on your credit card transactions, but it’s important to be especially proactive when you’re making more purchases during the holiday season. Watch out for unusual purchases that you don’t remember making. In addition, set alerts on your accounts so that you’ll be notified of any activity over a certain amount. If you notice anything suspicious, contact your credit card company ASAP to report it.


Now that you know how to stay safe when shopping online, it’s time to cross some items off your list! If you’re finishing up your holiday shopping, be sure to check out our blog. We’ve rounded up some of the best subscription gift ideas as well as some general great gift ideas for seniors.

Are you planning to retire in Greenville, South Carolina? Be sure to check out The Gables on Pelham, a continuing-care retirement community that welcomes seniors from all walks of life. We offer flexible and personalized care, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation. You’ll love our cozy accommodations, fun-filled events calendar, and welcoming community atmosphere. To learn more, please schedule a tour or call us at 864-713-1377.