The growth in the popularity of online shopping websites has brought an increase in the activities of cybercriminals that are targeting unwary consumers. If you’re going to get the best out of your online shopping activities you’ll need to take a few precautions. So you need to improve your online shopping security for not falling prey to criminals and Internet scams.
12 Tips to Improve Your Online Shopping Security
1. Access secure shopping sites
Access secure shopping sites that protect your information. If you want to purchase from a website, make sure it has SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. In this way you can improve your online shopping security.
2. Update your browser, antivirus and operating system
Unpatched software is a frequent cause of malware infections. Online shoppers are most at risk because of this, due to the sensitive information involved.
Make sure you at least have an updated browser when you order things online. This will help secure your cookies and cache, while preventing a data leakage.
You’ll probably balk at having to constantly update your software. It’s a tedious and time consuming operation, and most of the time the benefits are under the hood and offer no new features.
3. Use antivirus protection for your PC
The most frequent tip on how to be safe online is to use a good antivirus. Granted, it will struggle to block out the newest and most sophisticated threats out there, but it will keep you safe against known malware.
4. Keep an eye on your bank account
Malicious hackers really want your credit card data, and online shops are the best place for them to get their hands on such information.
Credit card data leaks aren’t always your fault. Often times, companies get hacked and their information falls into the hands of cybercriminals.
For this reason, we urge you to periodically review your bank account and check up on any suspicious activity.
5. Keep your shopping accounts secure with a password manager
Often times, we do online purchases from multiple sites that specialize around a certain niche. But most people will simply reuse the same password for each account, and that in itself is a major security risk.
However, a password manager like Dashlane or LastPass will greatly simplify and secure your login process, by helping you come up with more secure passwords and automatically introducing your login details.
6. Don’t fall for their tricks
Having the right security programs will go a long way in improving your safety when buying things online.
But what will really take your internet shopping to the next security level is a good understanding of cybersecurity threats combined with a few common sense rules on what you should and should not do online.
7. Keep a record of your transactions
If you are a frequent online shopper, it may be difficult to remember from which site you bought a certain product.
So, write it down: what you bought, when and from what website.
Compare your spending details with the banking records from your online banking account, keep track of which websites you use for shopping and buying stuff online.
8. Don’t give internet shops more private information than they need
In order to shop online you need to provide two types of information: payment information, such as credit cards data, and shipping location, which is usually your home or work address.
Be suspicious of online shops that ask for information such as: date of birth, social security number or any other similar information. They don’t need it in order to sell you things.
The safest way to pay online is to give your money directly to the delivery agent instead of paying by credit card. This way, the online website won’t get to have your payment information in their database, meaning a malicious hacker won’t get his hands on your data if they break into the seller’s website. Admittedly, few online retailers allow this, but if available, use it.
And if you don’t want to give away your work or home address, see if it’s possible to have the package dropped off at a certain delivery point where you can just go and pick it up.
9. Buy from a mobile device, not from PC
Are you buying from a major retailer, like Amazon or Walmart? Well, now all of them have dedicated mobile apps. Apps are more secure online shopping channels than websites since malicious hackers need to create specific attacks for specific apps. So beware of your online shopping security.
10. Use a credit card, not a debit card
Credit cards have some extra-legal defenses built in that make them safer to buy stuff with compared to debit cards.
For one thing, with credit cards you aren’t liable if someone does fraudulent credit card transactions, so long as you report the fraud in a timely manner. After all, its the bank’s money, not yours.
Secondly, credit cards give you leverage when it comes to disputing transactions with a seller. If you pay with a debit card, you can’t get your money back unless the seller agrees to it. With credit cards, the money you paid for a product isn’t counted against you until due process is complete. debit card holders however can only get their money back after this step.
Ultimately, banks are much more protective of credit cards since it’s their money on the line, not yours. Ideally, there shouldn’t be a difference, but you know how things go.
11. Make sure you’re buying from a real online address
One tactic favored by malicious hackers is to set up their own fake shopping websites. Fake websites can either infect you the moment you arrive on them by way of drive-by-downloads, or malicious links. However, the most dangerous aspect you should be concerned about is the checkout process.
Completing a checkout process will give cybercriminals your most important information. Information like credit card data (including security number), name and address. This opens you up to identity theft, credit card fraud or social engineering attacks.
12. Get a temporary credit card
Some credit card companies will issue a temporary credit card number for their customers. These temporary numbers can be useful for one-time purchases. However, you should avoid using them for any purchases that require auto-renewal or regular payments.
Above all of these, trust your instincts. Just like you wouldn’t go into a store or any place that seems “odd” to you, do not continue shopping on a site that appears to be illegitimate.
If the site has a weird URL, or if it’s designed in a weird way, or if there are too many pop-ups, then you should probably leave. It’s always better safe than sorry.
Be sure to follow these tips while shopping online. Therefore you can improve your online shopping security in this way. But don’t let fear kill your spirit!