With quick shipping, ordering anytime, and the ability to get the exact thing you want with a click, shopping online is great. But don’t let the easy ability to buy make you careless. Read below to learn how to protect your personal information while shopping online.
Ensure you are shopping on secure sites
Not all sites offer the same level of security. While the item you are hoping to buy may be much less expensive on a certain site, that does not mean it is the best financial decision. Some sites are much more secure than others, and you should keep this in mind when you are hunting for a deal.
Here are a couple of easy ways to ensure you are shopping on a secure site:
- Always check the website’s URL. It should always start with HTTPS instead of HTTP. These sites will also have a small lock icon next to the web address. This means that the information you send to the site is private and secure (encrypted). Even if you see the lock icon, always be careful when sharing private information like credit card numbers. Look at the web address and make sure you are actually on the site you wanted to visit, and not one that merely looks similar at first glance.
- Be cautious when accessing sites from emails. While our inboxes are flooded each day with marketing emails from reputable sites, scammers have also been known to make very similar looking phishing emails. If you click a link in these corrupted emails, you can easily be sent a virus or malware that will harvest key personal details like your name, address, and credit card numbers. To avoid these scams, check the email before you click. Make sure that it is sent by the correct company and that the link itself looks legitimate.
Don’t purchase over public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is just that, public. This means it is significantly less secure than your personal, home Wi-Fi. If it is easy for you to log on, then it is also easy for those looking to steal your information. If you need to purchase something while you are away from home, use your cell phone. The cellular network is much more secure.
Also, before purchasing at home, make sure your personal network is secure. It should be password protected and you should only share the network information with those you trust.
Avoid using a debit card
Credit cards offer protections while shopping online. Even if your information is stolen and someone racks up significant debt, you will only be liable for up to $50 and often less due to federal legal protections. Using a debit card offers protections, but if someone drains your account, it may take time to get the money back. This could leave you without the funds you need, and at the very least, you will miss out on any possible interest growth until the money is returned.
If you do not have a credit card, consider using an ecommerce service like PayPal to ensure your information is safe.
Keep your passwords secure
With all of the sites we visit, we need to remember many different logins and passwords. People often rely on simple passwords or using one, more complex password for all their accounts.
Both options are serious security risks. Simple, memorable passwords are easy for hackers to guess, and using only one password means that if someone determines it, all of your accounts are at risk. You should have unique, strong passwords for every site. These passwords should include numbers, letters, and special characters, and they should not be easy to guess.
This can get complicated. If you struggle to remember your passwords, you may want to consider using a password manager. A typical password manager will install a plug-in on your internet browser and then create and remember secure credentials for each site. They will even flag and correct accounts where you currently have weak or unsecure passwords.
Check your statements
Even if you are doing what you can to stay secure, breaches can still happen. Make sure you are actively checking your statements each month to ensure there are no fraudulent charges. If there are, contact your credit card company immediately. They will help to cancel the card and provide any applicable refunds.
Be safe while shopping online and take your security seriously. Consider each site before making a purchase, shop on your home network, avoid using a debit card, keep your passwords secure, and always double check your statements for any fraudulent charges.
Now, with security in mind, enjoy ordering almost anything from the comfort of your home!