How to stay stay safe while shopping online – words Alan Woods
It’s hard to deny the joy and simplicity of internet shopping when relaxing at home. You can avoid heavy crowds and endless searching in-store, and instead merely lie on the couch with a cup of coffee and browse the masses of online stores to your heart’s content.
And it’s no secret either. E-commerce sales from desktop computers (excluding mobiles) hasn’t dropped in the US since 2002, with 2015 raking in a whopping $256 billion.
However, with consumers’ love for online shopping seemingly reaching no end, this inevitably opens the doors much wider for those with malicious intent. Many people know someone who has been a victim of identity theft, even if they haven’t experienced it themselves. But how is it possible to stay secure online but still enjoy the perks of online shopping? Here’s how to stay safe while shopping online:
Check the locks
Just like you might do for your front door before sleeping at night, it’s a good practice to check the locks before online shopping. When visiting an e-store, you should see a green lock symbol in the top left corner of your screen, next to the website’s URL. Furthermore, the URL should start with https://, if not, then best to avoid using the site. Trusted online retailers like Amazon, eBay, etc., will all have these features.
If you’re someone looking to start an online store yourself, then this should be one of the first things to set up, otherwise customers will avoid your site like the plague. An SSL certificate, which is available from this company, can be installed and integrated within your website very quickly, and will automatically feature the padlock symbol.
Be wary of amazing email offers
Online stores that we visit regularly sometimes like to send us an email with links to amazing offers and deals. This could be totally legitimate, but there is an underlying threat that the correspondence isn’t genuine. Online crooks often send convincing looking emails, so what you think is Amazon.com might actually be a phishing scam designed to steal your card details and other private data. What’s more, the email links could be malware, which is malicious software that can relay your private information to criminals.
There’s no need to avoid ever opening an email ever again, but just use some caution. If you see a great offer via email, don’t click the link, but instead go to the real website and search for the deal yourself. And again, look for the lock and https:// indicators. It’s also a good idea to use credit cards for online transactions when possible, as debit cards tend to have fewer safeguards to prevent fraud than credit cards.
Use strong passwords
Many blogs and websites feel like a school teacher droning on about safety, but a strong password really is incredibly important for online security. What’s more, it’s vital to have different passwords for every site and app you use. We know they’re hard to remember, but you’ll be glad you did it rather than having your data or money stolen. PCmag.com has some useful password tips, such as spelling words backwards, substituting numbers for letters, using capital letters, and adding special characters (like ! ? < >, for example). Be sure to check out www.howsecureismypassword.net to find out how good yours is, as some passwords can be cracked within mere seconds, while others can take hundreds of years to decipher.