Online Shopping Safety Tips To Enhance Your Shopping Experience
Who doesn’t love a good bargain while shopping in the comfort of your home?
Online shopping is a convenience that 76% of Americans participate in with 25% of people shopping online at least once per month. Despite how common it is, online shopping can also be risky if you don’t take precautions.
Buying online can result in your credit card information or your identity being stolen. You run the risk of viruses or malware infecting your computer.
” Keep reading for online shopping safety tips that help you snag those online deals with less risk. “
Keep Your Computer Secure
A secure, updated computer can protect you if you stumble on a shady online shopping website. Make sure your computer is updated to the latest version. Install or update virus software to ensure it’s equipped to protect you from the latest hacking methods.
Ensure Your Connection Is Secure
Your internet connection can affect how well protected you are when you shop online. When using wi-fi, connect to a secure network to reduce the risk of someone accessing your information.
Never make a purchase while connected to public wi-fi. You’re at a higher risk for a cyberattack if you do. You can use a virtual private network, or VPN, if you’re away from home and can’t connect to your own secure network.
Choose Reliable Websites
Online ads for random shopping sites are everywhere. If they’re not recognizable, trusted brands, avoid clicking on the links or buying from them.
Instead, use reliable companies that are trustworthy. If you haven’t heard of the company before, dig deeper to make sure they’re legitimate. Look for reviews from real consumers to see their track record, and verify that they have real contact information, such as a valid email address and phone number.
It’s also a good idea to go straight to a retailer’s website even if you see an ad rather than clicking the link. Scammers can make it look like the link is for a legitimate business that you recognize, but the link could lead you somewhere else.
Check Website Security
Always check the website security before you purchase whether or not you’re familiar with the brand. Even legitimate sites can occasionally have security issues.
The easiest spot to look is in the address bar. The URL should start with “https:” instead of “http:” to show that the website is secure and that your data will be encrypted. If it doesn’t, don’t make a purchase on the website.
Limit the Info You Provide
An online retailer doesn’t need a lot of personal information to complete the transaction. Your birthday and Social Security Number are two examples of information you shouldn’t give out when you’re shopping online. That information can be used to steal your identity if it falls into the wrong hands.
Be Wary of Rock-Bottom Pricing
When you see an online ad for a deal that sounds too good to be true, assume it’s a red flag to stay away. Anyone can create an online ad that seems legit and advertises a great deal. You might really want that gaming headset you see for super cheap, but it costs a lot more if your financial information gets hacked.
Those links can lead you to dangerous websites that steal your information or infect your computer. You might pay for your order but never receive it, or the products might be questionable in quality.
Pay With a Credit Card
Using a credit card for online shopping can protect you financially. If someone steals your debit card information, they have access to your bank account.
With a credit card, you get more protection from fraudulent charges and often have less liability for those charges. Your bank might reverse the fraudulent charges made to a debit card eventually, but you’ll miss that money until the dispute process is settled, which can take time.
The Federal Trade Commission caps your liability for fraudulently used credit cards at $50 unless you report it being stolen before the card is used, in which case you’re not responsible for any charges. When you still have your card but your credit card number is stolen, you have no liability for the fraudulent charges. Some credit card companies don’t hold you liable for any of the charges.
For debit cards, you’re not liable for anything if you report a lost card before it’s used fraudulently. If you report the issue within 2 business days of realizing it and charges were made, your liability is only $50. If you wait longer than 2 business days but less than 60 calendar days after you receive your statement, you’re liable for $500, and you’re liable for the total amount for anything 60 days or more after receiving the statement.
Many retailers give you the option to save your payment information to make checkout easier next time. While convenient, this option makes it easier for hackers to make fraudulent charges, whether you use a credit or debit card. They have access to your payment information and can make purchases through the app with your payment account.
Set a Strong Password
Many retailers let you check out as a guest, but you might decide to create an account to manage and look back at your purchases. Choose a strong password that’s difficult to guess and change it often to protect your information.
If someone hacks your account, they not only have your personal information, but if you save your credit card info to your account, they can order items and change the shipping address. Sometimes they can even change your email address, so you won’t get the order notifications. You might not realize the charges have been made until you notice them on your account.
Monitor Your Accounts
Watching your accounts regularly helps you spot fraudulent activity early. Many banks also let you set up alerts, so you get an email or text with each transaction. If you get a notification for a charge you don’t recognize, you can investigate quickly and potentially stop additional fraudulent charges.
Follow Online Shopping Safety Tips
When you follow online shopping safety tips, you reduce your risk of having your credit card information stolen or your computer infected with viruses. Look for signs of a secure shopping transaction every time you consider an online purchase.
For a wide variety of items, check out our shop for a secure online buying experience.