Shopping the holiday sales online can be a convenient and fun activity for grabbing plenty of bargains. Like in any transaction, there are security issues associated with online shopping, but with little commonsense and practical advice you can shop online with confidence. Consider these tips on what to do when shopping online in order to have the best experience possible.
Many of us are still using operating systems or web browsers that haven’t been updated for two years or more, which puts us highly at risk. An updated and well-patched system will help to ensure that you’re getting the most up to date security protection while shopping online. Check for the free updates and security patches regularly and install them. You can also customize your settings so that these updates are installed automatically.
2. Install a good antimalware program
Malware exists everywhere. There are plenty of security software programs out there which protect your computer or mobile from malicious attack. Get into the habit of updating them regularly.GData Internet Security Mcfee, Norton Internet Seurity, Bitfender and Kaspersky are all tools that have proved to be effective. Also these tools update automatically as and when they are released to help you avoid compromising your personal details to programs such as keyloggers.
3. Never use a public WiFi or public computer to shop online
This seems like a no-brainer, but if you’re using a public computer or public WiFi such as library, computer lab, airport PC, always log out of the shopping website and clear your browsing history, page cache and cookies when you’re done with ordering something, or the next person who uses the same PC is likely to have himself a little shopping spree on your dime.
Instead of using public Wi-Fi which may be unsecured, turn on cellular data on your smartphone or a hacker can access your account. A VPN too, provides an extra layer of security.
4. Check out the credentials of the online retailer
There are reputed online companies such as Amazon.com, Flipcart.com, eBay.com, Walmart.com, and others. It is important, however to check the credentials of a brand that is not a big name you have heard of before. Third-party organizations such as Better Business Bureau of the United States and Canada give seals of security or trust indicator to sites that meet their security and privacy criteria.
Also searching for a product on sites like Bizrate provides a list of online merchants that sell the item, offering you an easy way to compare prices and read customer reviews.
5. Use credit card for payment
The American Bar association’s website, safeshopping.org recommends the use of a credit card for online shopping, they can do less damage and you have more advantages than if you’d used a debit card. If the merchant site turns out to be fraudulent, your credit company takes care of reimbursing you for the purchase; and Federal law protects you from fraud.
Another option you might consider using is a one-time use credit card number. These are connected to your regular credit card and include a unique number that can be used for one transaction only. If the number is stolen, it becomes useless. Using this type of credit card ensures that yur actual credit card number is not compromised.
Also, when providing your credit card details, always make sure that the web page is SSL encrypted on its payment form. Secure Sockets Layer or SSL encrypts data and breaks it up into small segments so that anyone trying to intercept it finds it difficult to read. There are several methods to check out if the site is secure:
- A secure website has the URL preceded with “https://” instead of “http://” in the address bar of the order page.
- Some sites show a padlock symbol in your browser indicating the page is secure. Make sure the padlock is closed. Open padlock symbolizes the site is not secure.
- An unbroken key also symbolizes a secure website.
- Some web pages display a message stating that you’re entering a secure zone.
6. Set strong passwords
Often, one of the most critical security steps we ignore is- our passwords. Passwords are our best security tools, but if they’re not strong and unique, a hacker can easily crack them. For any online shopping accounts, you need to create strong passwords that are easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess.
7. Check the retailer’s policies
Read the fine print and watch out for hidden shipping charges, sales tax and any other added charges. Not satisfied with the product? Check the seller’s policies before placing an order to work out if you need to cover return charges and any added amount you need to pay.
Finally, if you lose your smartphone that carries your credit card info, or you forgot to logout froma n account which has access to your bank details, makes sure you can remotely erase , and lock your device. For iOS, activate Find My iPhone from the settings,. Android users can use Google’s Android Device Manager to remotely disable and wipe the device.