The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with your loved ones, showing appreciation for one another. Unfortunately, it is also a reality that this time of happiness can be interrupted due to your private information being stolen. Before you begin shopping this season, be sure to prepare and arm yourself with ways to protect your private information.

Shop Only On Secure Sites

If you’re a fan of online shopping, there is an easy and effective way to ensure you are only shopping on secure websites. Secure sites begin with the standard “https” at the beginning of your web address. Another way to confirm the site is secure is by looking for an icon to indicate this near the web address. While this icon and phrasing may vary depending on what web browser you are using, they will all indicate the same security message. Shopping on unsecured websites can result in your credit card and personal information being stolen, so be sure not to skip this vital step.

Credit > Debit

Credit card companies are known to provide their users with more protection than federal banks do. Instead of using your debit card this season, considering opening a credit card with a low-interest rate to use for holiday shopping, or using one you opened in the past. Credit card companies actively monitor for security breaches, and arm users with more time to identify fraud. Debit cards are different in that the money is immediately withdrawn directly from your bank account once swiped, making it more difficult to relocate that money.

Keep An Eye On Your Statements

The most important thing you can do this holiday season is keep a close watch on your banking statements. It is impossible to protect your money if you do not pay attention to where it’s going. Watch your banking activity and make sure that every item is accurate and accounted for. If you notice any suspicious activity, it’s extremely beneficial to catch it and alert your bank right away.

To save yourself some time, it’s always an option to turn on text notifications for every transaction charged on your card. This gives you the immediate power to flag a purchase as fraudulent. Taking these precautions when shopping this holiday season can save you from copious amounts of stress, and even identity fraud. Protect yourself and your money by following these tips this holiday season.