How to shop online safely and securely
Shopping online offers customers a faster and more convenient way to shop than visiting a brick-and-mortar store. However, shopping online also presents digital security threats. For example, hackers can steal your payment information that you enter on e-commerce websites. Therefore, you must use common sense and follow some security tips when shopping online.
Make sure that your computer has comprehensive anti-virus and malware protection. If you shop online using a device infected with viruses and malware, the information you enter online could be stolen by hackers and identity thieves. Therefore, you should have up-to-date security software to protect your digital identity.
In addition to viruses and malware, there are other clever ways that hackers can compromise your computer, placing your personal information at risk. That’s why you need a firewall to keep hackers out of your computer. Windows-based devices come with a firewall. You can also buy security software that includes a firewall.
Don’t shop online unless you’re using a VPN (if you are using public Wi-Fi or an unsecured wireless network). Identity thieves can steal information that travels across an unsecured network. Therefore, you should use a VPN – this creates a secure connection with the e-commerce site and keeps your data private.
Before entering your payment information on an e-commerce website, you should check to make sure the site uses encryption (to keep your information secure). A secure website address will begin with https. Most web browsers (like Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox) will alert you if a checkout page isn’t secure.
Even though debit and credit card holders aren’t liable for fraudulent charges, disputing those charges is a hassle. Also, you don’t want to deal with finding out that someone has used your debit card to drain your checking account (even if you eventually get your money back). Therefore, using a prepaid debit card is an alternative to a traditional debit card tied to your bank account. For example, you can put a limited amount of money on a prepaid debit card (just enough to cover your online transactions). That way if your prepaid debit card information gets stolen, the thieves won’t get access to your bank account.
If you shop online with a regular debit or credit card, you must carefully watch your accounts for fraudulent charges. That way if your banking information gets stolen, you can catch it early – saving you time and trouble.
Adding account monitoring and fraud alert services to your bank accounts will give you even more security. You can get text and email alerts to verify account transactions. That way you won’t get charged for fraudulent transactions. Also, account monitoring services will keep identity thieves from opening up new accounts in your name. You can learn more about these services from researching them online.
Finally, being cautious and using common sense will protect you when shopping online. If you have shopping accounts on e-commerce sites, create strong passwords that are difficult to guess. You should also change your account passwords regularly. After visiting an e-commerce site, clear your browsing history from your web browser.
In short, shopping online puts you at risk of identity theft. That’s why you must take some security precautions when shopping online. Your computer must have comprehensive security software to protect you from viruses, malware and identity thieves. Make sure that you only enter your banking information on secure sites–sites that use encryption. Consider alternatives to traditional debit and credit cards – like prepaid debit cards – which aren’t connected to your bank account. Closely watch your bank accounts for fraudulent charges. For the best identity theft protection, sign up for account monitoring services. You must also periodically change passwords for your e-commerce shopping accounts.