Every year, the number of people shopping online and the money spent through online shopping grows significantly. And why not? The convenience alone of being able to shop from the comfort and privacy of your home is reason enough for many of us to shop online and when you couple that with often lower prices and, in many instances, the sales not being subject to sales taxes, online shopping is a winner. But how safe is it? We all know from last year’s data breach at Target, how risky shopping in brick and mortar stores is, but shopping online can also be risky. However, if you follow a few simple rules, you can dramatically improve the safety and security of your online shopping.
Here is a list of some online shopping tips:
1. Make sure that the computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone you use is equipped with the anti-virus and anti-malware software programs and that you have updated the programs with the latest security patches.
2. As with shopping at brick and mortar stores, don’t use a debit card for online purchases, as well. In the event of a data breach, the consumer protection laws in regard to fraudulent use of your debit card are not as protective as those that apply when your credit card is fraudulently used.
3. Don’t supply your credit card number unless the address of the website is preceded by the letters “https.” That additional letter “s” indicates that the transmission of your data is encrypted and secure.
4. Don’t leave your credit card number on record with the online retailers you use for the sake of convenience. Doing so only makes you more likely to become a victim of identity theft if the company suffers a data breach (and many of them will).
5. Don’t click on coupons or ads that you may receive by way of an email or text message regardless of how good they appear. They may be loaded with malware that will be downloaded on to your computer, tablet or smartphone if you click on the link. That malware can steal all of your personal information and lead to your becoming a victim of identity theft. Any legitimate coupon you might receive through an email or a text message will also be available on the website of the company where you want to shop.
6. Limit your online shopping to companies that you know and trust. Merely because a company comes up high on a Google search does not mean that the company is legitimate. Any company offering a price that appears too good to be true, should be particularly suspect.
7. Use distinct and complex passwords for each online company with which you shop and use dual factor authentication whenever possible.