Online Shopping is the name of the game today. All it takes is a couple of clicks to order a product and have it delivered to your doorstep. It’s convenient, time-saving and, most importantly, easy! No wonder then that online shopping has taken the world by storm.
Where there are people with money, you can be sure to find pickpockets. In Cyberspace, hackers are the online equivalent of pickpockets – always on the prowl, looking for the right opportunity to pounce on unsuspecting victims.
Due to the presence of these dangerous hackers, protecting your personal and financial information has become absolutely crucial.
Here are 5 online shopping tips to help you keep your information safe while you shop online.
5 Cyber Security tips for you to be on the safer side when shopping online
1. Use a Credit Card rather than a Debit Card
If you generally use your debit card for making online purchases then you just might have to reconsider. If you make an online purchase using either your debit or credit card, only to find out that it has been hacked without your consent, you will realize that both cards are treated very differently.
The major difference is that, with a debit card you will struggle to get your money back while with a credit card, the issuer of the card must struggle to get its money back.
So it’s better to stick to credit cards. Just look what the stalwarts of consumer safety have to say about using credit cards.
“You don’t use a debit card online,” says Susan Tiffany, retired director of consumer periodicals for the Credit Union National Association. Since the debit card links directly to a checking account, “you have potential vulnerability there,” she says.
If you have problems with a purchase or the card number gets hijacked, a debit card is “vulnerable because it happens to be linked to an account,” says Linda Foley, who founded the Identity Theft Resource Center in 1999.
2. Ensure you make purchases from a real online shopping website
One of the most effective strategies that hackers use to access your credit card details is by positioning their own fake shopping websites in the cyberspace. So when an unsuspecting online shopper visits this website and enters his card details on these fake websites, they will pay a lot more than what they bargained for.
Nowadays, it has become really difficult to actually recognize a scam website . This is because hackers have not only become smarter than ever but have also grown in numbers. This has led to the creation of hundreds of fake websites to lure unsuspecting online shoppers.
However, it is not that hard to identify a fake website, especially if you exercise vigil and methodically search them for a few signs. Here are a few steps to follow to spot fake websites:
Check Domain names Properly
Scam websites are more likely to use domain names that are actually similar to a well known brand or product.
For example domain names like iphonediscounts.com should ring some alarm bells.
Go through the website properly
Be sure to take a couple of minutes to go through the site. Visit the homepage, the about us page and examine the text there.
If you find the sentences broken, incomplete, or with grammatical errors then be sure to spot it’s a fake website. A good online shopping portal is likely to hire a professional content writer to get its product content written.
Check the Policies
Any company selling its products or services online must have a shipping and returns policy stated on the site in addition to terms and condition policy.
If the site is a real deal, it will guide you on the steps on how to return the purchased product.
Be sure to Read Reviews of the website
Be sure to read reviews stated by customers on the site plus don’t just rely on these e reviews also search and read reviews on number of different other sources.
Also check out the social media pages of the company for latest activity and to see what other people have to say about their products.
If the site requires customers to pay for products online through bank transfer then it should create some doubts.
If something is bought via credit or debit card from a site that turns out to be fake then the individual still has some rights to fight for its money.
But if a person is paying via direct bank transfer then there is actually almost only a little which that person can do.
Examine the Offer
Don’t opt for site’s offering products with price’s that are just too hard to believe. If a website has an iPhone 7 at $120 then it’s planning to scam you.
3. Shop from sites that safeguard your information
If you are planning to shop online on any given day then you must ensure to purchase your products from a credible website that has SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption installed.
There is a quick and easy way to find out whether or not the site has SSL installed. The site should start with https:// and you will also see a lock symbol within the address bar at the top.
To gain entrance to secure sites, you must use a browser extension like HTTPS Everywhere that encrypts connection to key sites and enhances your information security.
4. Use Secure Connections to stay safe
It is highly recommended to use a VPN (Virtual Private network) for sites that don’t offer SSL. Through a VPN, you get a secure private network for all your online activities even if you are using a public network. So if you want to shop online, you can use a VPN to establish an “encrypted tunnel” to prevent your card details from falling into the wrong hands.
5. Maintain a Record of your Online Transactions
Always remember to keep a record of all your online transactions which should include the receipt, the order number, the product description and the price. Also, remember to save any emails you receive or send to a seller as this might facilitate you if any problems arise.
Bonus Tip: Rely on your instincts
At last, it all depends on your personal instincts. Use your common sense and believe in your instincts. If you notice anything suspicious and doubtful about the website you visit, just back off. Leave the website and clear your cache and private data. If you see something that is just too good to be true, then perhaps it is! So it’s always better to do meticulous research on a website before actually sharing your card details and other personal information with it.
There are countless more cyber security tips you could apply to staying safe online while shopping, but the main thing is, the application. If you’re able to apply these cyber security tips and strategies, I am sure you’ll always have good online shopping experience.