Shopping online has boomed over the last decade. On Black Friday, there is no need to put yourself through long lines and crowds of people to get the good deals anymore. You can find almost anything you are looking for online. However, as more online shops pop up, we continue to find an increase in security issues. Thankfully, there are a few steps we are able to take to ensure we have a safe online shopping experience that doesn’t end in fraudulent charges, or an invasion of privacy.
Alternative Payment Methods
Instead of checking out with your personal credit or debit card information, try using an alternative payment method from a company you know you can trust. Many companies offer customers the option of checking out with Paypal, a trusted company that continues to offer safe and secure check out services.
Don’t Use the Same Password You’ve Been Using since Middle School
While it may be tempting to use the same password you are familiar with and know, it can be very dangerous to use the same information for everything. Especially for important accounts like your bank account, be sure to use strong passwords that have lower case letters, upper case letters, numbers, and characters. If you have trouble keeping tabs of all your passwords try using one of these tools to help keep you organized.
Check Out as a Guest
While it may be convenient at times to have an account setup on sites you frequently shop at, try to check out as a guest as much as you can. Many shopping accounts will store your personal billing and credit card information to help make it easier for you as you check out. However, by doing this, you are making it much easier for someone to potentially access your information, and make purchases as if they are you. While you may save a little time checking out with an account, you will save much more time when you don’t have to deal with fraudulent charges.
Avoid Using Public WI FI
As convenient as using a public WI FI network may be, unfortunately you are not able to know how secure the network is. This opens you up to the potential of having your personal information compromised. Aside from simply having your credit card information vulnerable, someone could also potentially invade your sense of privacy by discovering what you are doing and searching for while on the internet. Of course, the best option is to avoid public Wi-Fi networks all together, but if this is not an option, then a VPN will help. A VPN, or virtual private network, will encrypt your important data ensuring that it stays safe and secure, while making your online activity anonymous.
Only Shop at Websites with SSL Encryption
SSL encryption is a security tool used by websites to ensure that important and personal information stays private and secure. You can easily recognize a website that has SSL encryption as it will start with HTTPS:// (not to be confused with HTTP://), and also has a little padlock next to the URL. If you ever see a site without these two things, then do not give out any information to the website. I would recommend not even giving a website without SSL Encryption your name, and especially not any payment information.
Know the Site
The internet is full of shops upon shops, with many trying to sell you the same product. With so many choices presented, it is easy to go for the cheapest option. However, the cheapest option may not always be the best option. It is important to do your research. Does the website look reputable? Are there any hidden fees? Do they have good reviews from other people? Simply doing a quick search of the company will give you an idea if they are a trustworthy site and company to purchase from.
Hopefully you have found some of these tips to be helpful and useful, and feel that you can now safely shop online. While the internet does present itself with many new security risks, there is plenty of other resources and tools out there to keep shoppers safe.