How to stay safe shopping online?
Shopping online does carry some risk, but so does shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. So we have put together eleven tips to help you shop securely online.
1. Click Carefully
The time to find out whether a page is bad, is BEFORE you load it into your web browser. Employ a URL scanning tool to ensure you don’t click on links that lead to infected web pages. The majority of existing service providers use a “databank” to obtain this information, which means the information is outdated and exposes you to unnecessary risks. AVG LinkScanner does the searching for you in real time; all links are scanned for you to ensure you can make an informed decision.
2. Be “S” Secure
Always make sure the websites you are purchasing from are secure and have “https://” (as supposed to the traditional http://) in the URL when you are in the checkout/purchase process. Rule of thumb: the “S” ensures security. When you are in the secure section of a website, you will also see an icon of a locked padlock either on the address bar or on the bottom right corner. This ensures your information stays intact, without the interference from any outsiders.
3. Stay current on security software
This means making sure you have the latest virus protection software updates from your security software provider. Unfortunately it’s not always possible to stem the flow of malware. As technology keeps developing, so does the malware. However, if you are up-to-date with your antivirus software, you are staying one step ahead, and your information is unlikely to be compromised.
4. Keep your private information private
Create a separate e-mail account that is solely for online shopping use. Email is FREE with Google/Yahoo. Make sure you use a unique password, which is different from any of the other accounts you may have. Your dedicated shopping e-mail account should be in no way affiliated with your personal, everyday e-mail account/s. Make sure you keep a record of all your online shopping; remember to always print e-mail confirmations as well as any other confirmation pages that might be offered by the online retailer and save these in a secure place. The printed confirmation pages will work as insurance for you if anything was to go wrong and your information ends up in the wrong hands.
5. Mix up your passwords
Each shopping account, bank account, credit card account and e-mail account should have a unique password. Many of us keep the same password as we think it makes our lives easier. Everyone should write the passwords down and keep the information in a secure location; for example store them in a drawer, rather than on your computer. By ensuring unique passwords are used for each account, you will make it tougher for the online thieves to steal your personal information. See password article for ideas
6. Watch out for scams
If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers are very cunning. Cross-check information on the internet and see if anyone else has had problems. Be extremely wary of anything that is offered in an unsolicited or spam email. Visit www.ongaurdonline.gov for more ways to protect yourself against internet scams.
7. Pay Safely
Paypal or Google Checkout are preferred; but remember it is better to use a credit card for purchases than debit cards, as they offered a higher level of protection. Under federal law, credit card issuers can only hold customers liable for the first $50 of fraudulent transactions, and most issuers will waive even that amount. Further Verified by Visa and Mastercard SecureCode are security initiatives put in place that offer another level of security if a fraudster does have your card and tries to use it for an online purchase. This is technology put in place by card companies to make things make more difficult for criminals.
8. Don’t install “money saving” software
Beware of web pages with special offers or coupons that require software installation. Agreeing to the installation of one program is often a backdoor for unwarranted programs, malware and spyware. Always check the end-user agreement before you click ‘agree’ and if the program you want also installs other programs, cancel the application. Sometimes, you never know what you’re agreeing to.
9. Trust your instincts
If you don’t feel comfortable buying or bidding on an item over the web, or if you feel pressured to place your order immediately, maybe you shouldn’t.
10. Shop From a Secure PC
If possible, avoid using the family PC that your teens or children use to chat with their buddies and play games online. Those machines are often already infested with spyware. An infected system will undermine all of the other precautions you might take to avoid online fraud. Before you start shopping online, make sure your system is running with up-to-date anti-virus software, and that you’re using a firewall to block potential intruders. Just as important, be sure that your computer has the latest Microsoft software security updates installed.
11. Know the merchant
If you’re not familiar with the merchant, do a little research like typing its name (and perhaps the word “scam”) into a search engine to see if there are any reports of scams. Look for user reviews on sites like Eopinions.com. Look for seller ratings if you locate the merchant through a shopping search engine like Google Shopping . Google doesn’t certify the integrity of the sites that come up in its searches, but if you see lots of seller ratings that are mostly positive, that’s a pretty good sign. You’re generally pretty safe with sellers that are affiliated with shopping aggregators like Amazon.com or Yahoo Shopping.