Do you want to make the most of your online purchases? Today, thanks to the World Wide Web, we can take advantage of some of the best deals and save a ton of money by purchasing items online. Online crime is present, and now more than ever, it’s very important to know how to shop safely online and avoid the many dangers that lurk on the internet.
You need to make sure that you will not get ripped off, and that you will stay safe while shopping, and this is why we have prepared this guide to help you stay safe online. Read these essential tips and make sure that, after you have finished reading them, you implement them in your online shopping behavior.
Check for the Encryption
Just like you are protecting your personal information in the real world, it is very important to also protect it online. This information like credit card numbers, your address and other PII or personal identifiable information, should only be provided to a secured website. There are a couple of ways to tell whether this website has a strong security setup.
- First, you always need to check for the padlock symbol, which is usually found beside the URL bas, and can be clicked to ensure that the website you are looking at has a trusted and valid certificate.
- After that, see if the website has the letters HTTPS in its URL, because that is an indication of strong encryption by companies that process sensitive data.
You should never purchase from a website that does not have this security precautions.
Make Sure To Research the Retailer
While you are roaming the web looking for the latest deals, it can be easy to land in an unfamiliar territory, so it is highly recommended that you only buy products from reputable sources. Every verified retailer has an online shop, from those internet-only stores like Amazon and Asos to the web pages of Tesco and Walmart.
If you are not familiar with who the retailer is and have doubts whether that retailer is credible, you need to think twice before giving out any sensitive information. To check the legitimacy of the online store, check the contact page and terms and conditions.
You can even look online for the user reviews, and for the reviews of shopping cart software they are using to be sure that everything is legit. Make sure to also scan social media websites to see if their shop is active and engaging with their customers. If you are still in doubt, Google should be your best friend.
And last but not the least, be aware of those easy-to-spot grammar mistakes or URL addresses together with cheap web design, because there are all key signs that you should avoid shopping from that website.
Be Careful When Using a Public Wi-Fi
Even though it is very convenient to shop online while you are in a restaurant, coffee shop or the airport it is very insecure, because you don’t have control over those networks and it is possible for someone to snoop and steal your important data. It is preferable to just browse on the public Wi-Fi and save the purchase until you go back to a safe home network. But, if it happens that you spot a deal that simply has to be purchased right now, make sure to use your smartphone’s mobile data network.
Secure All of Your Devices
Since cyber criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated, it is very important that all of your devices have all of the latest security updates installed. These updates are constantly patching software vulnerabilities and security flaws, and if your computer or other device has weak security, it will not matter how well protected a retailer’s website is, you will be at risk.
While you are surfing the web, it is a necessity to have a strong anti-virus and malware protection, which will scan your system for flaws and stop any unwanted applications from taking over your computer. If you are shopping online by using your mobile device, we strongly advise you to only use branded applications that will be downloaded directly from official sources like Google Play and Apple App Store.
Use Credit Cards
Using your credit cards when you are shopping online means that you will have greater financial protection when you are purchasing products online. Credit cards offer far more insurance than debit ones and schemes like “Verified by VISA and the ”Secure Code” MasterCard add another layer of protection to your online purchases and are helpful in fending off unwanted access to your bank account.
Online payment processors like PayPal, offer strong protection, and in many cases you will receive a full refund if you run into a dodgy transaction. These internet-based payment services will store the information of your credit card on a secure server, and that will save you from revealing any details during a new purchase you are going to make online.
Be Familiar with the Common Scans
Since traditional fraud and crime has become increasingly common in the world of the internet, it is important to be familiar with common scams like email phishing attempts, malvertising and fake coupon deals. Some of these scams even take advantage of sophisticated social engineering, so it would be best to always stay alert when you are shopping online.
During busy periods like New Year and Christmas sales, cybercriminals step up their game to catch inexperienced internet users off guard. Because of this, it is very important to avoid opening unsecured emails or click on any link that seems suspicious. Ignore any online forms that ask for your bank details and double check if the discounted product you are looking to purchase appears too good to be true.
Use Strong Passwords
The password is often overlooked when people are setting up a new account with an online store. The password provides a basic foundation of protection and determines how secure your account will be. It is crucial that your password is long, unique to you and strong. Try not to reuse the same password on several accounts and avoid those easy-to-guess passwords like the name of your pet or date of birth, because thanks to social media, this kind of information is pretty easy to find out online. Many websites are now offering two-factor authentication, and this also provides another layer of safety by adding your emails, phone or text confirmation before you can access your account.
Check Your Bank Statements on a Regular Basis
In all that fuss and rush of shopping, it is pretty easy to lose track of how much money you have spent, so keeping an eye on your online bank statements is the key for checking if there is some suspicious activity or even fraud. Setting up online banking is quick and easy, and it offers a secure method to always stay on top of your outgoing finances, even when you are on the move. It is very easy to get caught up in sales shopping, but if you implement this advice, you will always stay on top of your finances.
These were our eight tips on staying safe online while you are shopping. We all love the commodity of online shopping, because there is nothing better than laying in your bed and purchasing items that will be on your doorstep in less than 48 hours.
But, this does not mean that we should relax completely, especially now when cybercrime is on the rise. So, be sure to carefully read our tips once again and have them in your mind next time you are doing some online shopping; we are sure that you will feel and be safe while you are purchasing the items you had your eye on.