These days, many consumers find it more convenient to shop online, but some still enjoy the “old-fashioned way” of hitting the brick and mortar stores and browsing the aisles. Either way, make sure to protect your finances, as is a crucial part of surviving the holidays season. As you make your way through your family’s wish lists this holiday season, keep in mind, just as the retailers want you shopping, so do the hackers.

The huge increase in consumer shopping means more potential targets, making the holiday season a prime time for criminals to take advantage. When it comes to shopping online or in stores, you can never be too careful. This season, give the hackers one less thing to be jolly about by remembering these simple tips that’ll help protect your finances.

Holiday tips to protect your finances

Say Chip, Please!

When it comes down to pulling out your plastic, reach for your chip card – the next level credit card that’s more secure than other payment options.

Each chip card contains an embedded microchip with information such as your credit card number, expiration date and your full name. This same information is stored in the magnetic stripe on the back of the card, but unlike the stripe, the chip generates new and unique data for every transaction, making it a lot harder for your information to be compromised.

Rather than using the magnetic stripe, dip your chip into the reader for a more protected way to pay. To see just how easy it is to “chip and dip,” check out this video.

Lock it Up Online

When shopping online, be careful of what data you’re sharing using public Wi-Fi. You’re more susceptible to fraud if you’re sharing personal information through unsecured Internet connections. And, when getting ready to checkout online, double check to make sure you see “https” instead of just “http.” The “s” on the end let’s you know that the information is being encrypted, making it more secure and harder for hackers to snag.

Watch Out for Skimmers

Got plans to take out cash, or fill up the tank this season? Be on the lookout for skimmers: small electronic devices installed by criminals that attempt to capture your card number, four-digit PIN or zip code. Since they’re most commonly found on ATMs and at gas stations pumps, take an extra moment to examine for unusual attachments, odd markings or scratches. This may be a sign of tampering.

When entering your code, shield the keypad with your hand. This can prevent any hidden cameras or not-so-innocent bystanders from sneaking a peak at your personal information.

 Bonus tip

During the holiday shopping season, scammers send out phishing emails with special offers and great deals. Stay vigilant when checking your email for these offers. If it seems too good to be true, assume it is and avoid clicking any external links.

No matter where you shop, take these extra precautions to protect your finances. Less stress for you means more quality time with your family. Happy holidays!