Shopping online has become very popular, but while it may be very convenient, it’s important to take certain steps and protect yourself. Having a huge catalog of products available whenever you want something and being able to benefit from next day delivery are two of the reasons online shopping has become so widespread. Unfortunately, there is an increasing number of scammers willing to take people’s money for goods that never arrive or use their personal information for their own financial gain. However, before you throw in the towel and decide never to shop online again, take the time to read the following tips. It is possible to stay safe online, but you have to think about what you’re doing and take certain precautions.
Be Doubly Careful if You’re Shopping Using a Mobile Device
It’s possible to do pretty much anything using a smartphone. You no longer need to be sitting at home using a desktop. You can buy from the eclectic Gucci collection when traveling to work on the train or sitting in a coffee shop enjoying your lunch break. Equip your phone with anti-virus software and take care you’re not visiting a risky site. Don’t enter any personal information when you’re using a public network. A wi-fi hotspot will not usually encrypt your data, so it’s left wide open for a hacker to pluck your information from the ether.
Never Save Your Personal Information or Passwords
It doesn’t matter whether you only shop at reputable online stores or not, make it a habit to never allow a website to remember your personal information. Of course, it’s extremely convenient, but it’s also very convenient for anyone who gets hold of your phone. Data breaches are also a regular occurrence, which means your personal information is at risk. It’ll take a few more minutes to complete your purchase, but those few minutes will be worth it because they are minimizing any risk and providing you with peace of mind.
It’s just as important to make sure the passwords you use are secure as well. There are a variety of apps you can use to remember passwords and most of the different browsers have an option that remembers them, so you don’t have to type them in every time you visit a site. As with personal information, this practice is leaving your passwords wide open for anyone to use. It’s also a good idea to change your passwords regularly.
HTTP vs HTTPS
When you’re making online purchases, you need to look for sites with HTTPS in the URL. The added S means any information you input is sent securely. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is used which encrypts any information until it reaches the intended recipient. A closed lock or unbroken key are other signs to look for.
One last word of advice. Never click on links in emails. Always type an address in your browser so you can be certain you’re visiting a site you want to. Phishing scams often use emails that appear to be from legitimate sources such as a bank or online store. Clicking on a link in such an email will take you to a phony site that will take all your information and steal your identity.