Online shopping is one of the things that you can’t fully avoid. From the availability of mind-blowing wide selections of products and bargains to convenience and the COVID pandemic in between, online shopping has become a Jedi of our time. The online shopping industry is a consumer market, making competition very tight for sellers. Moving from one online shop to the next takes a couple of clicks. It’s even possible to be at two or more different shops at the same time. With online shopping, you get to compare products in terms of quality, price, reputation, etc. To top that, during the COVID-19 pandemic period, online shopping provides a much safer shopping experience compared to going out covered in masks.
At this point, you must be thinking; it can’t be all rosy? Sure, nothing is, anyway! If you are constantly online, then you know the risks associated with the use of the internet. Since online shopping happens on the internet, it is no exception to internet dangers. Any industry at its peak or just experiencing a boom is subjected to cybercriminal attacks. Online shopping has been marked as the number one target of cybercrime in 2019 within the US by IC3.
Although these stats may be alarming enough to keep you away from online shopping, just stay calm as we have you covered. In this article, we will go through the best practices to keep you safe when shopping online. By putting these tips into action, you fortify your online shopping security.
Shop With Reputable Sites
Search results are not always displayed according to which one is best or most trusted. Usually, they are misleading as they portray sponsored sites at the top. Therefore, take time to scroll through the sites and look for the familiar ones to shop with. Moreover. Be aware of misspellings as this is a technique used by scammers to lead you to cloned sites. Reputable retail platforms such as Amazon are a better place to start as all of their operations are carried in transparency. Also, pay attention to the site’s domain extension as criminals like to present a copy of a genuine site with a different domain extension such as .org in place of .com. Then, the clone site will present ridiculous sales to cajole you into spending money.
Identify the Lock
One of the top priorities when shopping online is never to purchase anything from a website that doesn’t have an SSL encryption technology. To identify whether or not the site has SSL, check at the beginning of the URL if the link includes HTTPS or just HTTP. If it’s the former with an ‘S’, then the site has an SSL. Depending on your browser, a lock pad icon appears on the top left if the site features SSL encryption. Any website without SSL is identified as unsecured when browsing the internet using Google Chrome.
You’re Shopping Not Applying for a Tender
Be careful of the information you give to these online shops. For starters, your Social Security number shouldn’t be demanded nor provided to an e-tailer. In the same likeness, your birthday should not be required to buy general products or services. By sharing them with online shops, even if they have a good reputation, when hacked, crooks will obtain so much information which includes your complete profile. Don’t allow cybercriminals to know much about you and make it easy for them to steal your identity.
Stay in the Shadows
What we love the most can become the reason for our downfall. Take for instance web browsers. When it comes to online safety, common web browsers don’t provide much to help you keep safe. Therefore, it remains one’s duty to take care of their security measures all the time. Your browser can allow anyone to monitor your online activities using cookies. However, by using a third-party security service such as a VPN, you keep your online activities private and immune to espionage.
Use Strong Passwords
The majority of internet users only change their passwords once or twice a year, if at all. If you hear someone saying they change their password daily, chances are that they are paranoid liars. However, as part of the majority, you should ensure that you use an uncrackable password. Instead of using your favourite sports team, child’s name, and other easier to guess phrases, try something that isn’t related to your personal preferences. Moreover, you should mix special characters, numbers, and letters in your password. If you think it will be difficult to remember, then get a password manager service.
Keep Track of your Bank Statements
Of course, we all receive monthly statements indicating all the transactions performed over a specific period. However, if you are an enthusiastic online shopper, you need to keep track of the transactions often to ensure that it goes in hand with what you are purchasing. While at times due to system error you can be double charged, some online scammers take advantage of that and make you pay for a service or product twice. If you keep a close eye to your bank statement, you will soon notice such red flags and get them addressed as soon as you can.
Think Twice About Rock Bottom Offers
We all love good deals and sales. But there comes a time when something may just seem too good to be true. Based on experience with the online shopping industry, if it feels that way, chances are that it isn’t true. Watch for 90% sales and free gadgets on offer. These are old techniques used by online scammers to trick consumers into giving their bank details or purchase something that they will never receive.
Use a Reputable Anti-Malware Tool
Keeping your computer armored is the foundation of safe online shopping. If your computer is vulnerable, then your personal details can be leaked during your online shopping. Moreover, you can be easily monitored while shopping online. Therefore, we advise finding a strong malware tool that will run on the background, performing scans, and fighting against intruders.
Avoid Public Networks
Public networks are the fishing bay for cybercriminals. Since the networks are open to anyone, users become easy targets, let alone if you’re to shop online while connected to a public network. Shopping online usually requires you to provide personal details that are quite tasty to cybercriminals. Therefore, you should avoid using public connections at all costs.
Don’t Shop in Public
Shopping in public is very risky as someone might be peeking over. You can easily give away your login details as well as credit card information when shopping online in public. Remember, when making the payment, you might need to take out your credit card to fill in the front and back required details. This opens an opportunity for an over-the-shoulder spy to get all the data they need to misuse your identity, leading to major financial loss.
Use Official Apps
Using a desktop to shop online is quite scarier than a mobile device considering the privacy features that come with the use of a smartphone. Therefore, it is best to use apps provided by the official e-tailers. That way, you can even complete payment by just verifying your fingerprint.
Only Review after Receiving a Product or Service
Many online shoppers fall for this trick. “Rate us to receive an amazing discount.” These are the types of lines that make people post a review before they even receive a service or product. The discount might be attractive, but is it worth it? Therefore, to contribute to the quality of reviews that other online shoppers can use to determine if the website is trustworthy or not, don’t be shy to voice your concern if something is not right. Moreover, give a non-biased review to keep things real within the online shopping industry.
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