'Tis the season for cyber crime: 10 tips for safe online shopping

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Online holiday shopping is easier for millions of Americans, however, that also means its easy for cyber criminals to steal personal information. 

More people are using multiple devices to shop: smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Cyber criminals will be looking for card information, usernames, passwords or other details while you shop. 

Dimension Data, a global technology consultant, offers up these 10 tips to stay safe while shopping online this holiday season:

Never use public Wi-Fi when making purchases online
The connection is likely to be less secure than what you have at home, making you an easy target for criminals.

Never open emails, click on links, or open attachments from unfamiliar sources
Just because a site is hyperlinked, doesn't mean it's a legitimate and trustworthy source -- be vigilant that you're familiar with the site and never enter personal information somewhere you're not familiar with. Here's an example of a fake bank website that Dimension Data provided: 

Only download apps from known, trusted sources onto your devices
Criminals are faking more than just websites -- they're also faking popular mobile apps in order to gain access to personal information. 

Watch for the visible padlock icon on your browser to confirm encryption
A padlock icon typically means the site you're purchasing goods from is a secure, trusted merchant.

Use your credit card, rather than debit card to make purchases -- and don't store your card details online
Credits cards are the safest way to pay, because you can dispute any fraudulent charges with the help of your credit card company. 

Use a password management system to securely store and manage all your credentials from a single location
Opt for multi-factor authentication, like using more than one password, biometrics or verifying who you are on another device, on all sites and services that offer it. 

Make sure your anti-virus systems are up-to-date
Not just on your home computer or laptop, but on your smartphone, tablet or other device you might use for online shopping. 

Never share your usernames, passwords or other personal information online

Check your bank statements often
Report any suspicious activity or charges to your bank as soon as you notice them

Communicate, communicate, communicate
Be sure to educate your children, parents or relatives who may be less cyber-savvy about scams they may run into. The best protection is knowledge!

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

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