How to Stay Safe While Shopping Online

While the convenience of online shopping for our families makes it irresistible for us web users, a careless mistake could lead to us losing an irretrievable sum of money. If you’ve ever purchased something online but never had it delivered to you, you’re certainly not the only one. According to the FBI’s Crime Complaint Center, non-delivery of goods is the top cybercrime of 2017 among many other notable crimes like non-payment of goods.

That being said, online shopping can still be very enjoyable — we’ve compiled a useful list of tips for you to follow; you can continue to do your Christmas shopping without having to step out of the house while effectively avoiding being a victim of cybercrime. Read on to learn about 14 tips you can adopt to make your online shopping experience a seamless one while protecting your family in the process.

Use websites you’re familiar with

You can’t go wrong with shopping from the same websites that you’ve always used. After all, they’ve never given you any problems and searching for new sites can lead to us clicking on random web pages that might be untrustworthy.

Should you be looking for something that your trusted websites do not offer, you can head to Amazon instead. As we all know, they pretty much have all you need there. Also, a way to spot shady websites is to take note of their domains and even look out for spelling errors — if the website can’t market their goods properly, chances are they might not be the best place to buy what you need.

Secure Sockets Layers (SSL)

This tip is especially important to make sure that you don’t end up becoming a victim of credit card fraud. SSL is a standard form of technology security, symbolized by a locked padlock that appears on some webpages. It is an encryption link that ensures information is only sent to the webserver and the client; preventing important data like credit card details from being stolen.

Other than looking out for the padlock sign, online shoppers can also look for websites that start with HTTPS. Websites with HTTPS are generally more secure and adopt the SSL system — but don’t worry too much about this because Google Chrome warns users of HTTP sites, so you’ll know whenever the page you’re on doesn’t have an SSL function.

Oversharing isn’t good

Should an online shop request for your Social Security number among many other details, you might want to be extra vigilant. Some online scams are cleverly disguised as new online shops that require users to fill in a detailed sheet on their personal particulars. When you give out too many details about yourself, it makes it easier for scammers to steal your identity so beware!

Regularly check your bank statements

Since online hacking can happen at any time, you shouldn’t wait to check your statements only at the end of the month. Look out for any statements that appear unfamiliar or ones that you have absolutely no recollection of. Although trusted payment sites like Paypal shouldn’t cause any problems, hackers can sometimes access your Paypal account through an online shopping site you’ve previously used. A tip is to use credit cards instead of debit cards, so you’ll be able to pay the bill only after verifying it.

Protection against malware

Have you got an antivirus program that protects your beloved laptop against malware, but unsure if it’s up to date? As much as it’s great to have anti-malware tools, it will be even better to make sure that they’re updated so new threats won’t be able to cause you any harm.

Private Wi-fi networks

Using secure networks can also prevent online shopping scams from taking place because hackers won’t be able to steal information through a firewall. If you can choose among using a few free wifi sources with random network names, definitely opt for familiar privatized networks for extra security.

Vulnerability at public terminals

Even if it’s a harmless act of taking out your credit card at the cafe to make an online purchase, someone could just look over your shoulder to see all your credit card information. Granted that you really have to make an online purchase when you’re in public, ensure that you are sitting with your back facing the door when you’re keying in your credit card number and expiration date — this way, you won’t have to worry about someone peeking over.

Create strong passwords

The hassle of trying to come up with a strong password can be annoying, but it’s worth the effort. The general rule is that your password shouldn’t be the same as that of your other accounts. Consider using a password managing website like Sticky Password premium or Keeper Password Manager and the Digital Vault. Not only do they help you generate unique passcodes, but they also help you remember them too!

Abine Blurring function

If you’ve been scammed numerous times, chances are you’re pretty scarred from your bad experiences. Nonetheless, you can still shop online with the help of Abine’s Blur, a browser add-on that lets you shop online without revealing any of your personal details. With just $36 a year, you can shop all you want without worrying about being a victim of online shopping crimes!

Verified Mobile Applications

Instead of using websites, consider using mobile applications that offer retail services. Mobile applications are verified by application stores, so you can rest assured that there are actual business corporations behind the online shopping app.

Pay by phone

In recent years, more and more people have been paying by mobile payment applications. Like Apple pay, these applications provide a one-time authentication code when you are making a purchase, which makes the transaction all the more secure. There are many popular online store applications that are now using this system, such as Google Pay, Airbnb, and even Starbucks.

Gift cards

There’s nothing easier than being able to purchase a gift card online with just a lift of your finger. However, there have been some incidents where online shoppers have been given gift cards containing no money at all. To prevent this from happening, ensure that the website has a policy that protects its customers’ rights when a gift card is faulty. Though, if it’s too troublesome, you could just pop by the physical store to guarantee that you’re buying a legitimate gift card.

Research the seller

Before you put down your credit card number at the checkout section, you can give the website company a call to confirm that they’re a legitimate online shopping business. It will be handy to note down the company’s address and email, so you’ll know where to lodge a complaint. Other than ringing them up, you can search for reviews or use a scam tracking page, like the one Better Business Bureau offers.

Seek justice

In the unfortunate event that you’re a victim of an online scam, report it to your local police station. Or if you’re simply unsatisfied with the quality of the delivered goods, remember to give feedback to your seller. The seller might send you a replacement or issue a refund; so you won’t feel sour about getting a bad deal!

Instead of running around for the whole day trying to find the perfect dress, all you need to do is head online to be greeted by an extensive selection of stunning dresses. Don’t forget to use a quality VPN such as VPN Mash to keep your information privacy online safe. In spite of all the terrible online shopping risks, as long as you know what to look out for, you’re good to click on the checkout button. If it’s too much to remember, simply bookmark this page for further reference — there’s no reason to deprive yourself of the ease and joy of shopping online.

For more great family tips, check out the other blogs on Cyber Parent.

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