Shopping online has become easier than ever right from your computer or smartphone, but so has the increasing possibility of your private information ending up in the wrong hands. Protect your personal identity from potential thieves by taking note of these online shopping safety tips.
Use Secure Sites
When making a purchase, always look for a secure internet connection. Reputable websites use SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to encrypt data during transmission.1
What does that mean? Before entering your personal information, look for the little padlock in the address bar or that the URL of the page you’re on begins with “https” indicating a secure site, versus just “http.”
Visit a Store’s Website Directly
Instead of clicking a link in an email that may lead you to a fake website, visit the store’s website directly. Checkout on store’s website should be secure with the padlock explained above. If you’re getting ready to finalize your purchase and don’t see the padlock or the URL begins with “http,” verify you’re on the correct website.
Shop on Familiar Websites
Shop at a trusted, familiar website, versus simply searching for goods. Search results can lead you astray, especially if you venture beyond the first few pages of results. About every large retailer has an online store. Beware of misspellings in the URL or a different domain (i.e. a .net versus a .com).2
Research the Seller
If you’re purchasing from an outside seller on sites such as Amazon or eBay, check the seller’s rating and reputation. Review the comments from past customers and ask the seller any questions – reputable ones should reply in a timely manner. Read the product description carefully before you buy to understand where it’s coming from, shipping charges, whether the product is new or used, and the refund policy.
Use Strong Passwords
When shopping on retail websites, use a strong, unique password – don’t use common phrases, names, or dates someone could guess. Additionally, consider changing your password periodically and avoid using former passwords or the same password across multiple websites.
Related post: Protecting Your Personal Information Online
Shop from Home
If shopping online or from your smartphone, avoid using public Wi-Fi. With the weakened protection of free Wi-Fi, it’s easier for hackers to gain access to these public airwaves and potentially steal your private information. It’s safer to use your own data or just wait until you get home before shopping.
Related post: 4 Tips for Safer Online Banking
Watch Out for Scams
Pop-up ads on websites or ads on social media can often link to amazing, but fake, deals that don’t actually exist. It’s important to stay alert and be skeptical, especially if it’s too good to be true.
Shop safely online by staying aware of the sites you’re on and take these tips into consideration before entering any personal or financial information.
- 10 Must-Have Account Alerts for Better Money Management
- Digital Wallets: What They Are and How They Work
- 7 Features to Increase Your Online and Mobile Banking Security
- Phishing and How to Recognize It
1 USA Today These Six Tips Will Help You Stay Safe While Online Shopping
2 PC Magazine 14 Tips for Safe Online Shopping