More and more people are utilizing the internet for all their shopping needs. Not only is it more convenient, it allows for more competitive pricing as well as the benefit of no sales tax depending on the state you live in. With free shipping included and transactions made simple, there has been a diaspora from traditional shopping venues to the online marketplace.
While these days such shopping is far more secure than in the fledgling years of the internet, there is still some precautions you should take when shopping online. Here are 5 tips to staying safe when doing your online shopping:
1. Password Protection
The most reliable form of defense is a strong password. Lazy ones such as “password” or “123456” are typically the first thing a thief will try. Remember this type of theft requires no hacking skills or even a sliver of computer knowledge to employ. The easier something is, the more thieves will be able to do it, and the more likely you will be targeted.
A strong password can serve as an iron portcullis that shields your private information from thieving cyber-bandits. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a difficult one, however. A phrase such as “I want ice cream” is easy to remember but just as difficult to crack as something like “3ks8Y1z.” However, despite their relative simplicity, using pass-phrases are just as difficult to crack as some inscrutable random code.
When shopping at an online retailer, be sure to check and verify if the website is using technology to encrypt the data you provide it with. You see this in the URL of your browser as “https” instead of “http.” There will also be a padlock symbol in the address line.
This is typically standard for large merchants such as Amazon, but be sure to check the address line whenever you are visiting a new or smaller merchant. However, some criminals will create fake sites that mimic the appearance of a legitimate retailer, so be wary when you are redirected to an item from a link.
Identity theft is one of the most prevalent forms of online fraud. It typically begins with an email from what is ostensibly a legitimate business. The link attached, however, will send you to a mock site designed to steal your private data. Once you enter in your information and credit card data, the thieves will then begin making purchases using your card and steal your identity.
4. Customer Service
Many online retailers will offer live customer service through a chat box to help consumers with the shopping experience. There have been instances, however, especially when redirected to a fake site, where the pop-up window is actually generated by a hacker looking for your private data. It is a good rule of thumb to never provide private data over a live chat.
5. Prepaid Cards
If you are truly frightened by the prospect of identity theft, then there is always the option of using prepaid cards in lieu of a credit or debit card. These cards are designed to stop theft by having extremely low limits, thereby preventing a thief from racketing up charges. The cards can then be reloaded after the balance is exhausted so that you may continue shopping at a later date.
Jamie Richards is a writer for over at EmployersLiabilityInsurance.com an online resource for business owners.