The explosion of online shopping has made purchasing groceries, gifts, and home décor more convenient than ever. You no longer have to leave your house and wait in lines - instead, all you need is an internet connection, and you can purchase anything the world has to offer!
This increase in convenience has also come with expanded security risks for consumers. Bad actors like hackers and scammers are getting more elaborate by the day, putting your personal information and money in danger.
Fortunately, online security is improving, and by being proactive, your online purchases can be some of the safest transactions you make. Below, we’ll take a look at the best ways to keep your online transactions secure.
Strengthen Your Passwords
The first step to keeping your information safe online is having strong passwords. Use different passwords for each account and consider using a generator for robust options created randomly. The longer the password, the better, and be sure to use a large variety of special characters and numbers. Keeping track of multiple passwords can be challenging, so keep an offline record of each account.
Use Familiar Websites
Buying online with large, reputable stores or brands is some of the safest shopping you can do. Avoid third party websites and research any brands you don’t recognize beforehand. Internet scams have become increasingly sophisticated, so look for security icons, such as the SSL lock, on each website you visit to ensure your information is protected. Without these icons, it can be impossible to tell a legitimate retailer from a phishing scam.
Never Shop on Public WiFi
Unsecured, public WiFi networks are a gold mine for thieves looking to steal your information. Never log in to your accounts, enter your card information, or make purchases while on shared public networks. Some networks you’ll encounter in public will be malicious and explicitly designed to steal your information. Always make sure you’re connecting to a secured network, and you know the host is legitimate.
Internet scams are becoming increasingly harder to detect, and constant vigilance is required to keep your data safe. Sometimes, these scams come in the form of deals that seem too good to be true. Be sure to thoroughly research any incredible bargains before making the final purchase. Email scams are also occurring more frequently. Never click any links, download attachments, or provide information via email to unknown parties. Scammers are proficient in creating emails that look like they’re from reliable companies, so make sure nothing looks questionable before interacting with the message.
Credit cards offer built-in protection other payment methods cannot compete with. For starters, no bank information is transferred when making purchases with credit. Debit cards can expose sensitive information like balances and account numbers to hackers, leaving your bank account vulnerable to theft. Credit cards provide minimal information during transactions, and most companies will cover fraudulent purchases in their entirety.
There are several products available to help keep you safe online, as well. VPNs, or virtual private networks, will provide you with the safest internet connection available. These encrypted options will shield your IP address and location, making you virtually anonymous while you shop around. There are also various browser add-ons that keep your information safe. Consider software to fight viruses and malware to give your computer an extra level of security. Many of these options now offer protection against phishing scams, so you’ll never fall for a fraudulent email again.
Despite the numerous threats to your personal information, online shopping can be safe and secure. Be sure to only buy from well-known websites and thoroughly research any companies you’re not familiar with. Secure your information with strong passwords and security products designed to stop hackers immediately. Consumers are buying more online than ever before, so protect yourself with these tips for safe online shopping!