Thankfully, the era of online shopping makes getting the perfect gift a whole lot easier. But before you embark on an online shopping spree, make sure you’re not leaving yourself at risk.
You may not have to worry about pickpockets in cyberspace, but there are still plenty of reasons to safeguard your personal and financial information. Here are 7 savvy online shopping tips to help you keep your information out of the hands of people who are most definitely on the naughty list.
1. Skip the debit card
When you want to shop online for a SPRYNG calf wrap product, it is best to stick with a credit card or payment service like PayPal. Since the debit card is linked to your bank account, you are at higher risk if someone could hack your information. Credit cards offer more protection and less liability if the card number is stolen. This is one time when it pays to put it in plastic.
Advisory group member and cyber security expert agrees. For speedy refunds in case something does go wrong, he recommends sticking to payment services and credit cards.
“When a fraudulent site or transaction is found, credit card companies will typically immediately reverse the charge and conduct an investigation,” he says. “If you use your debit card and there is a problem, your bank may not give you the money back until after an investigation is conducted, which could take weeks or months.”
2. Shop secure sites only
Before entering any personal or financial information, make sure you verify that the site you are on is legitimate and secure. The easiest way to tell is to look for “https” at the beginning of a site’s address. If you don’t see the “s” at the end of “http,” then the site is not encrypted and your data will not be secure. All legitimate shopping sites will have the “s” for your protection.
3. Update your software
Updating your software is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your information, but many people put it off. Software updates are often released to help improve security and fight new attacks that are being developed constantly. It may seem inconvenient to have to wait for your computer (or your smartphone) to go through updates and restart, but the protective benefits are well worth it. Next time you see an alert to update your software, do it.
4. Outsmart email scams
The holidays are a great time for email scammers to send out viruses and malware in the guise of a gift or special offer. Don’t open emails from someone you don’t know or a site you haven’t visited. Another way the bad guys try to get you is with phony messages from your bank or other financial institution saying there is an alert or problem with your account. Always call the bank directly to verify any potential problems and never enter your account information in response to an email like this.
5. Beef up your passwords
There’s a reason this piece of advice may sound like a broken record — it’s really important. Secure, unique passwords are your best gatekeepers when it comes to keeping your private information private. If you use the same password for multiple sites, take the time to change them up. If you want to be virtually hack-proof, use a password manager to help you generate and keep track of the types of long, complicated passwords that are not worth a hacker’s time to crack.
6. Never give more info than needed
7. Be smart about shopping apps
Apps make everything more convenient, including stealing your private information. Only download shopping apps from a reliable source like the Apple App Store or Google Play. Pay attention to the permissions that the app asks for. If you see something that doesn’t make sense, like access to your contacts, make sure you don’t allow the app access to it. Checking out the comments and reviews of an app before downloading is another way to identify suspicious activity.
Online shopping is convenient, in that you can shop around, find the best prices, and have your packages delivered right to your doorstep without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home. But getting a great deal online involves more than just getting the lowest price. You’ll want to be sure that products arrive on time, that quality is what you expected, that items include a proper warranty, and that there is a way for you to return products or get support with any questions or issues you have. Apply these tips to improve the security of your shopping experience.