Using the Internet for shopping saves much time, allowing us to avoid long lines, standing for hours in traffic jams on the way to the mall, and so on. Also, most buyers prefer online shopping due to having a wider range of products and services than in one store.
But besides the advantages of online shopping, there are some disadvantages and risks each buyer may have. Scammers, unfortunately, do not stand still and continually come up with new ways to steal our money. You should be careful and follow smart online shopping tips when providing your credit card information to make a purchase.
In this article, we will share the most important online shopping safety tips. Also, we will tell you how to know if a website is safe for payment.
Online Shopping Security Threats
- Fraud with your cards and accounts as a result of payments through unprotected web pages.
- Fake or phishing online shops, like fake website addresses, offering goods or promotions that do not exist.
- Receiving a product or service that does not match the seller’s description.
- Showing you higher prices, due to tracking your online shopping history.
You should make purchases from reputable stores and only on secure pages that guarantee the security of your payments.
Safe Online Shopping Tips
1. Choose online stores carefully
Try to buy only from trusted sellers. Before you enter your credit card details, read the reviews about the store. Also, pay attention to advertising on the site, the address and the browser warnings. Don’t risk if at least one thing arouses suspicion. Fraudsters often forge online shopping sites to get your personal and banking information.
2. Find reviews about the store
If the site is fraudulent, then most likely there are some reviews from previously-deceived customers in relevant groups on Facebook or third-party sites. Pay attention to the physical address and phone number of the store. If this data is available, it inspires confidence. Also, you can call and check if it is working, to confirm the store’s validity.
3. Use an Internet or temporary card
One of the ways to protect your money is to create a special card for Internet shopping only. You can transfer a limited amount of money to this card, so even if hackers get access to your card data, your main account will be safe.
4. Connect your card to your PayPal account.
When possible, pay using your PayPal account to safely make online purchases. This provides a guarantee of a refund if the seller tries to deceive you.
5. Do not register using your social network accounts
A social network account is the first and main source of information for intruders who collect personal data. This data can be later used for fraud. Set up the profile confidentially on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and so on. Do not let online stores access your account data.
6. Create a secure password
It can be difficult to come up with a unique password for each service. But using the same password everywhere (for email, social networks, online stores) is not a good idea. You can use a password manager, or read our previous article on how to create a secure password.
7. Do not use public Wi-Fi hotspots for online shopping
A free Wi-Fi network, even in your favorite cafe, can be dangerous. Cybercriminals can easily access the data of your electronic payment, which was made in a cafe, hotel or airport. Therefore, online shopping is best done by connecting to your home Internet, through a mobile network, or VPN tunnel.
8. Check the security of the connection
The address of the secure resource has to begin with HTTP, where the letter s stands for secure. The platforms for creating online stores recommend HTTPS protocol. The HTTPS protocol and SSL certificates protect the data transferred between the Internet user and the site. If the address of the online store begins with http, we recommend that you avoid making purchases on this site. Otherwise, your payment details can be easily stolen.
9. Check links carefully before clicking on them
It’s important to be careful which links you click on, whether in an SMS, an email, or attachment. Dangerous viruses have caused the loss of personal data and money through a variety of ways. Once an SMS was sent with a link to a fake site, which contained a virus. As soon as users downloaded the virus, it stole their personal data and money. Also, cybercriminals actively use email attachments to disguise malware. So be careful, and don’t open suspicious links.
10. Take care of your computer’s security
Your bank account can be attacked not only by Internet sites but also by the computer itself if it catches any viruses and security issues. Install a good antivirus program. Of course, it should be legal, so that you can regularly update it and protect your computer from the most urgent threats.
11. Upgrade Internet browsers
Make sure that you always have the latest version of the browser installed on your computer. It is not difficult to do this, because programs usually report updates and offer to install them. The developers regularly improve their programs and increase the security against intruders.
12. Enter the web address manually
Malicious sites can use domain names that are very similar to popular websites. For example, the difference between Amazon and Amaz0n is that the second site is fake, although quite similar to the original online name. Therefore, do not to copy the URL into the address bar. It is more reliable to enter the site address manually.
13. Check if the store accepts your card
Many popular stores may not want to work with residents of other countries. In order not to waste your time, carefully learn the terms of payment on the website.
14. Log out from your account
Regardless if you have made a purchase or not, log out of the system store, bank or payment system as soon as you finish the task. Closing the browser is not enough. If you use a public computer, your data can easily get into the wrong hands.
15. Use a VPN
Making your online activity even more secured is possible with a virtual private network (VPN.) VPN makes your Internet connection private and protected. In short, when you connect to the Internet through a dedicated VPN server, it creates a VPN tunnel. The VPN tunnel protects your anonymity and eliminates the possibility of malicious influence, including viruses, censors and hackers. Read our previous article “7 reasons to use a VPN.” Also, if you are a Mac user, you can try the VPN Client app, which provides a free 7-day subscription.
Even the experienced online-shopper can sometimes make common mistakes while purchasing online. This can lead to unforeseen costs, financial and temporary losses, or missed discounts. But now you know how to shop online safely. Use these online shopping tips for safe purchases, and save your money.