The season of giving is upon us and more of us are conditioned to do our shopping online this year than ever before. The ongoing pandemic, combined with convenience, makes online shopping an obvious choice for most consumers. Unfortunately, hackers and cyber thieves have also increased their attention and effort on online shoppers. Here are 5 tips for safe online shopping:
Stick to secure websites. When shopping online, you want to ensure that every site you visit is secure. Look at the browser bar when entering a new site. If there is a small padlock icon to the left of the web address, the site is secure and you should feel safe to continue. Google Chrome goes an extra step and will label unsecured sites as “not secure” so you know to stay away. Another quick way to tell if a site is secure is by looking at the web address. If it begins in “https,” you’re good to go. If the “s” is missing at the end and it starts with “http,” the site is not secure, and you should find somewhere else to shop.
Don’t be afraid to use your phone. You can shop on your phone just as easily as you do on your computer, and the portable aspect should not worry you. Major corporations like Amazon and Walmart have secure apps with seemingly unlimited items to purchase. Making purchases directly on apps avoids the hassle of going to the company’s website, where your connection might not be as secure. It also helps to set up an Apple or Google Pay account, as businesses will not be able to get your bank account information from these sources.
If you do decide to shop on your mobile device, make sure that you are not on public WiFi. Public WiFi is rarely secure, and using it could make you an easy target for hackers. They could get any personal information you enter while on the WiFi. It’s better to bookmark the products and purchase them when you are on a private connection.
Use a password manager. To keep your information secure, it’s imperative to utilize strong and complex passwords that are difficult to crack. Avoid using personal information and using the same password across accounts. To make things easier for yourself, utilize a password manager to keep track of all of your different passwords. This way, you can create complex passwords that even the best of hackers can’t figure out. Make sure to use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special punctuation to make the most secure password possible.
Take a pass on amazing deals. If you come across a price that just seems too good to be true, chances are it probably is. If you search for an item on a search engine, you may see prices way lower than those of major retailers. These options could be on unsecured sites as a front to try to steal your information or it could be someone who doesn’t actually have the item trying to make a quick dollar. While the deal might seem like something you can’t pass up, it may cost you more in the long run, and you might not even get the product.
Pay attention to bank statements. You won’t always know when someone gets access to your personal information or bank accounts. By paying attention to your bank statements, you can catch overcharges or purchases that you did not make. Always use a credit card when shopping online because hackers will not be able to access any of your actual money. Most credit cards come with fraud protection that prevents you from being liable for charges you never actually made.
As long as you take the necessary precautions, shopping online is a safe and financially responsible practice. If you follow these tips, your holiday shopping will go as smoothly as possible.