Online shopping offers many conveniences but also requires some diligence to ensure that your information is not stolen. Below are a few tips that can help ensure the security of your online transactions.
1) Use a credit card or online pay-service:
Do not use debit cards or checks as they do not have the same protections in place. Consider using one credit card for all online shopping. This way, if the card information is compromised, you can easily shut the card down.
2) Use unique passwords:
If the site allows you to check out as a guest this is always the safest method. However, if you are required to make an account make sure to create a strong and unique password. This will avoid having all of your accounts compromised by a single event.
3) Use a secure computer and environment:
If your computer is not protected from malware then your financial information and passwords will be stolen. This may seem obvious but studies have shown that only a fraction of the US population has adequate protection. Make sure that you are using an Anti-Virus and that the computer’s firewall is turned on. If you are using WiFi at your home make sure that it is encrypted. Finally, and most importantly, never shop on public WiFi networks.
4) Avoid offers that are “too good to be true”:
Any store that advertises prices that are drastically below its competitors is suspicious. Many times this will result in disreputable online stores claiming the item is out of stock and try to sell you something else in a classic “bait and switch” scam.
While online shopping will always have its inherent risks, you can minimize your chances of being financially compromised by following these few suggestions. As with anything in life, pay attention, and trust your instincts.