Many people prefer online shopping over traditional shopping for several reasons including convenience. However, it comes with risks as well.
The question now is: How can you stay safe online while doing your holiday shopping? Read on and find out how you can stay safe when you’re shopping online.
9 Ways to Have a Safe Holiday Online Shopping
1. Confirm the retailer’s legitimacy
One of the advantages of traditional shopping is you’re certain the business exists. On the web, however, there’s a risk of exposing your crucial details to fraudsters.
People can easily fabricate businesses to acquire your personal and credit card information. To be safe, only shop from online retailers you have transacted with before.
You can also make an online shopping websites list and check whether the entities are legit. Take time to read customer feedback and reviews, and do some research.
2. Be cautious about deals
If you think a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. While it’s tempting to splurge during Black Friday or when there are other huge sales, rock-bottom deals may be a red flag as well.
For instance, online shopping websites for clothes may offer the same product at different prices. In some cases, low-priced items are either not in stock or have poor quality.
To avoid splurging on low-quality or unavailable items, compare prices and read customer feedback. This will not only help confirm the legitimacy of the business but also give you an idea whether you’ll get value for your money.
3. Don’t shop online using public WiFi
Sipping your favorite caffeine fix while online shopping sounds like a great idea. However, publicly available Wi-Fi networks like those in your go-to cafes can be easily intercepted.
This means someone can access your sent or received data while on public Wi-Fi. Online shopping has the risk of exposing your important information to identity thieves, such as your name, credit card details, and address.
Simply put, it’s best not to use public WiFi if you’re going to shop online or log in to any website.
4. Use strong passwords
People can easily log into your account if they have your password. When this happens, they can modify your details such as shipping address and purchase items using your stored payment information.
As a result, you’ll pay for products you didn’t buy. One way to prevent this horror story is by using a strong password.
Here are a few tips to do just that:
- Use a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols, and numbers.
- Refrain from using information people can easily guess or find like your birthday or favorite color.
- Set different passwords for multiple accounts. When criminals are able to access one of your accounts, they can easily access the others, too.
5. Don’t keep your credit card information in your online accounts
Businesses also provide a convenient option for online shoppers in terms of payment. Usually, they give you an option to store your credit card information for a faster transaction.
However, this comes with risks as well as it is prone to data breaches and cyberthieves. Once hackers intercept your shopping account, they can easily make fraudulent transactions using your credit card information.
To be on the side of caution, do not save your credit card information in your online shopping accounts. Otherwise, you’re exposing yourself to the risk of paying bills you’re not benefiting from.
6. Download apps from reputable stores
Mobile apps also offer a convenient way to shop, especially when you’re on the go. The risk arises, though, when the app you installed is laced with malware or any other malicious software.
Criminals may be hiding behind these apps and infiltrate your smartphone to do fraudulent things like subscribe to services without your consent. This danger can be avoided, though, by downloading apps only from reputable providers like the App Store and Google Play.
7. Watch out for holiday online shopping scam emails
Receiving emails that give special offers during the holiday season is common, too. However, the offer may also come with malicious intent.
Your computer may be infected with malware or viruses disguised as emails. Don’t fall victim to this and avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in emails sent by unrecognizable sellers.
8. Don’t give out your personal information
Keep in mind that legitimate shopping websites won’t ask for any information other than the usual purchase transaction details. Be suspicious about websites or personnel asking for your Social Security number and other very personal details.
It’s either you call their customer service hotline to verify whether you can give other identifying details or look for a different website that can cater to your holiday shopping needs.
9. Check your bank statements after your online purchase
Whether or not you’re shopping for the holiday season, make it a habit to check your credit card statements. Monitor fraudulent charges and turn on account alerts.
Such notifications will allow you to see purchases made using your credit card, so you can assess whether they are your legit transactions.
In a nutshell, online shopping comes with both advantages and disadvantages. While it helps save time, effort, and cost, and offer convenience, there are risks as well.
Hackers and criminals can deceive you and intercept your information without you knowing it. In fact, even the best online shopping websites may be exposed to threats as well.
As a rule of thumb, don’t easily give in to deals just because they are priced low. Check whether the online shop is legitimate and refrain from logging into your accounts using free public WiFi.
Also, be cautious about emails sending special offers as it may be disguising, too, when in fact the link that comes with it is a virus or a malware. Lastly, never store your personal and credit card information on your online accounts and make it a habit to check your credit card statements.
Are you doing some online shopping for the holidays? What among these online safety tips are you practicing? Share with us your experiences and thoughts!