Family Life


3 min Read

Buying some common sense this holiday season

Many people look forward to this time of year as an opportunity to be with family and friends, to sing catchy holiday jingles, and to indulge in elaborate home-cooked meals. For many Canadians, this time of year also offers a chance to take advantage of major discounts, whether you’re buying gifts for loved ones, or yourself.

It used to be that shoppers would flock to stores and malls to get all their holiday “must haves.” But we know more and more Canadians – including children – are now turning to the internet to buy everything. But not all online shopping experiences are merry and bright. In fact, many cyber criminals often work overtime during the holiday season, developing scams to steal your personal and financial information.

There are many easy steps you can take to ensure that your online holiday shopping experience for yourself and your family is a safe one…

  • Check your list twice – If you receive a suspicious e-mail, whether it’s offering discounts that are too good to be true or it’s filled with grammatical errors, delete the message. It could be part of a scam to trick you into downloading a virus or giving away your personal information.
  • Find out which websites are “naughty” and “nice” – When conducting transactions online, make sure the website address contains “https” instead of “http,” which indicates an added layer of protection. Also, scan the entire Web page for a trust mark, such as the VeriSign Trust Seal. This mark demonstrates that a trusted company has taken comprehensive measures to certify security, online business ethics and customer privacy standards.
  • Avoid making online transactions in public hotspots – Free Wi-Fi can be appealing to holiday shoppers on the go, but security for such connections may be sorely lacking. To avoid any disappointing surprises, steer clear of doing your holiday shopping on an unencrypted, public hotspot network connection.
  • Pick one, low-limit credit card for all your online transactions – Nothing is more appealing to cyber criminals than high credit limits. When shopping online, use a dedicated credit card with a low-limit ($500). That way, even if you become the target of a cyber attack, you won’t find yourself trying to recover thousands of dollars in stolen credit.
  • Sit down with your children and have “the talk” – Parents need to be aware that kids are going to want privacy to develop their own online identity and to do their shopping. But parents need to talk to children about the dangers of visiting inappropriate sites and of making purchases without their knowledge. Make sure you are setting clear budgets for online shopping and emphasizing the importance of shopping on safe, reputable sites.
  • Don’t let scams ruin your online holiday shopping experience – Use trusted online security software for your PC and mark sure your tablet and smartphone have security software installed as well.

For more information on how to stay safe online, please visit

Courtesy of Lynn Hargrove, Director of Consumer Solutions for Norton.

Related Articles