There are many online shops that is created everyday, entrepreneurs setting up post on OLX, a page at Facebook, an Instagram account, a video blog on YouTube, It’s clear that today’s consumers feel comfortable shopping online. However, that comfort is often accompanied by complacency. Cybercriminals are more sophisticated than before, and that means they are using tricks to easily fool consumers into visiting fake stores or opening phishing emails. Here are tips to help you beat the crooks and stay secure while shopping online.
Be picky to where to reveal your personal information.
Your most valuable asset online isn’t your credit card info but your personal information. The more you reveal about yourself online, the greater the risk of identity theft. An online store will request your name, address, phone number, email address and billing information. If it asks for anything else, such as a Social Security number or a driver’s license number, take your business elsewhere. No legitimate business needs that information for a simple purchase.
Opting bank cards in shopping online.
“With a credit card, the card issuer must fight to get its money back. With a debit card, you must fight to get your money back.” – NerdWallet.com
If a cybercriminal lifts your debit-card information, he has a direct connection to your bank account. If you don’t monitor your account closely, you risk being wiped out completely.
It is also much easier to report and reconcile compromised credit-card information than debit-card info. Credit-card customers have up to 60 days to report fraud before they’re on the hook for stolen funds; debit-card customers have as little as two business days.
Use a prepaid card.
One exception to the “never debit” mantra is the prepaid debit card. You control the amount of money connected to the card, so there won’t be an entire bank account for a criminal to tap into. More important, a prepaid card isn’t connected to any personal information beyond what you need to provide for purchase and delivery. That differs from credit and debit cards, which are linked to bank accounts or large lines of credit.
Make up the answers to security questions.
Any time you are asked to remember security questions, slightly think twice to tell the truth. Sure, your mother’s maiden name, or your first school is quite easy, but no one is going to know or care if you say other names instead. What’s important is that you REMEMBER IT. Social media has made it easy for cybercriminals to gather all kinds of personal information that is used in answers to security questions. This open question is OK to lie.
Use a dedicated shopping email address.
Be wary of using your personal email account? Because chances are, it includes plenty of personal information, lists of contacts and archived correspondence that you don’t want hackers to get access to. Your work email account may have even more sensitive information, including something that could compromise corporate data.
Avoid these risks by setting up a dedicated email account to be used only for online shopping. Doing so will make the information in your regularly used email accounts less vulnerable if there is a data breach involving the shopping site.
The other benefit of having a separate email address for shopping only is that any special offers, marketing blasts and other emails from these retailers will go to that account. That will make it easier for you to tell if similar emails coming to other accounts are spam. Just make sure that the shopping email account’s username and password are different from those used by any of your regular email accounts.
Be cautious on clicking shopping links in an email.
We all get email messages from online retailers, but be very careful. Even if that message showed up in your dedicated shopping email, it isn’t necessarily legitimate. Rather than clicking on the link in the message, you may go directly to the store’s official website and search for the item on sale, or type in the codes for special offers.
Remember: if an offer in an email message or on social media sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.
The cons of doing this, is sometimes stores are giving away special discounts on its e-mail corresponds. Always, check the URL address of the store.
Use smart password management/ 2-step verification for your accounts
Many of the data breaches you hear about involve unencrypted or poorly encrypted passwords. Once a hacker has your password for one online account, the chances are very good that he’ll be able to access other accounts with that identical password.
That’s why it is important to use a different password for every account. It’s OK to write them down, as long as they are stored in a secure location, such as a locked desk drawer or in the “vault” of an encrypted password manager. Storing passwords in an email account or on a computer file puts them at risk of being stolen if your system is compromised.
If an online store offers two-factor authentication, use it. (Gmail.com now does.) Yes, it may mean going through an extra step, such as typing in a code texted to your phone, but it adds a layer of security. It’ll make it much harder for anyone who has your password to access that account. Also you can be notify, if a hacker is trying to login to your account.
Don’t let shopping sites save your information or credit cards.
If available use store apps when shopping on mobile devices.
It is difficult to do all of the standard safety checks you would do on a computer (checking links, checking browser connections) on a mobile device’s web browser. The safest way to shop on a mobile device is to use the store’s own app — downloaded from an authorized app store — and use the cellular carrier’s network or a secure Wi-Fi connection. Never use public Wi-Fi, even one with a shared password, to shop online or to make financial transactions; it is too vulnerable to attack.
Keep all of your software up-to-date.
No matter which device you use, don’t go shopping online until you know all of your software is updated. That includes using the latest version of your preferred browser, having the latest antivirus software installed and applying all of the most recent software patches, whether you’re on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
To know more information on how to secure an online purchase, you may continue to check out the following articles:
- 9 Tips for Buying Furniture Online
- 10 Tips to Safe Online Shopping
- Online Shopping Secrets that Every Consumer Must Know
- 10 Tips When Buying Online
- 5 Important Guidelines to a Successful Online Purchase
If you have any other tips or experience on how to be safe while shopping online, just leave a comment below and let’s discuss about it.