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‘Tis the season to be ‘nice’ online …

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Mastercard shares four “nice” tips for staying safe this holiday season.

The holiday season is upon us, and while many shoppers are rushing to the malls for last-minute offers, others are looking for those perfect bargains online.

Merchants are pulling out all the stops, but so are cyber criminals. They know people are looking for a good deal and are trying to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. By creating very real looking offers and emails, criminals can trick people into sharing personal information and payment details.

To help shoppers stay safe during the holiday season, we have developed a “NICE” list – four simple steps to stay safe when shopping online:

* Never click on unknown links. We tell kids not to take candy from a stranger, and need to follow that advice ourselves when online.  Even if an email or link looks legitimate, make sure you check its origin before clicking.

* Insecure public WiFi should be used with caution. While public WiFi may be free, it often doesn’t offer strong security measures. Before connecting, confirm it is a trusted network and only make purchases when connected to a secure network so personal data isn’t seen by prying eyes.

* Check out digital wallets like Masterpass to pay online. This technology masks your card number for added security and simplifies the checkout process. Also remember to never share your card details over email.

* Enable two-factor authentication and sign up for alerts wherever possible. This extra layer of security will also give you a heads up if someone tries to gain access to your accounts.