Nothing can beat the convenience of online shopping, but even if you're far removed from the madding crowd, it doesn't mean that there are no wily eyes on you, waiting for a chance to relieve you of your hard-earned money. Just as marketplaces have become virtual, so have the scammers that once lurked on street corners. It's important to not be lulled into a state of complacency while shopping online. Following certain precautions can go a long way in protecting you from cybercrime.
Here's our safety checklist for shopping online.
1. Trust your instincts
If you don't feel comfortable buying or bidding for on an item over the web, or if you feel pressured to place your order immediately, maybe you shouldn't.
2. Make sure the internet connection is secure
Before you give your payment information, check for indicators that security software is in place.
Smartphones are not as protected against threats as your desktop.
Reputable companies will be open about how they collect data from you and what they do with it. Many now also belong to web-seal approval or trust mark programs that set out guidelines on the treatment of your information.
4. Double-check pricing
Be suspicious of prices that are too good to be true. Also consider carefully whether you may be paying too much for an item, particularly if you're bidding through an auction site.
Credit cards can be the safer choice for online shopping -- if someone manages to intercept your financial information online, they can do less damage.
5. Use safe payment options
Credit cards can be the safer choice for online shopping -- if someone manages to intercept your financial information online, they can do less damage and you have more recourse than if you'd used a debit card.
6. Give out as little information as possible
Beware of nosy questions seeking personal information. For instance, a trustworthy online retailer will never ask for unnecessary personal or financial details.
7. Be extra careful if you're on a mobile device
Smartphones can basically do everything a computer can do nowadays, but that doesn't mean they are as protected against threats as your desktop. Most phones aren't equipped with the anti-virus software that you have on your computer, so it's easier for criminals to get malware on your mobile device that could help them steal the information you enter.
8. Make sure the order checkout area is encrypted
Before you purchase anything from a website, verify that the vendor has encrypted the payment form.
9. Use strong passwords
Often, we give the least attention to one of the most critical security steps -- our passwords. Passwords can be the best security defences we have, but if they're not created properly, a hacker can easily guess them.
10. Install a phishing filter
There are various phishing filters, like SmartScreen Filter in Internet Explorer, which will help protect you from phishing sites by warning you when they detect a distrustful website.
11. Protect your money
When shopping, check to be sure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with https://, indicating extra measures to help secure your information.
12. Do your research
When using a new website for purchases, read reviews and see if other consumers have had a positive or negative experience with the site.
If you are using a public computer, information such as your browsing history and even your login information may be accessible to strangers who use the computer after you.
13. Do not use a public computer
Computers save or "cache" information to speed up your internet experience. And, if you are using a public computer, information such as your browsing history and even your login information may be accessible to strangers who use the computer after you.
14. Check your bank/card statements often
To ensure that no unknown or fraudulent charges have been posted to your accounts, check your statements every month.
15. Print or save a copy of your orders
It's always a good idea to keep documentation of your online purchases. Most retailers will send you an email or refer you to a web page with a confirmation of your purchase; this page should include a purchase receipt and a confirmation number. Print or save the confirmation and keep it until you receive your product.
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