Shopping online can be both convenient and sometimes even a necessity if you can’t find a certain item in a nearby store. However, online shopping requires you to also plug in confidential personal and financial information to websites that are not always the most secure. Here are some tips to help you shop online without compromising your security.
Only Shop On Secure Sites
Ever wondered why some web addresses start with “http://” and others start with “https://”? The “s” stands for secure. When you are shopping online always check the address bar to ensure the web address starts with “https://”. You should also look for a lock icon in the address bar, which is another indicator that the website is secure. You don’t want to provide your personal information on an unsecured website that could be vulnerable to hackers.
Know Who You Are Buying From
If you are browsing for items on a reputable website and get linked out to a third party online retailer, don’t just assume the third party is trustworthy. Some trustworthy websites may link out to less trustworthy sites with weaker security policies. Downloading an anti-phishing toolbar can help alert you if you are browsing on a fraudulent site, but you should also trust your instincts. Buying a discounted item isn’t worth compromising your online or mobile security. Plus, you may not want to drop hundreds of dollars on a sketchy website and then find an item in less than ideal condition show up on your doorstep.
Use Credit, Not Debit
Never use your debit card when shopping online. Unlike a credit card, your debit card is directly linked to your checking account, allowing a thief direct access to your money. In addition, you may not be protected from fraud if a thief uses your debit card. Credit cards often offer more protections than debit cards.
Keep Track of Your Statements
After shopping online, be sure to track your credit card statements to ensure that you have been charged correctly. Something simple like reload confirmation pages that fail to load could cause a retailer to inadvertently charge your credit card multiple times. If you see an error call the retailer immediately and ask them to correct it. If they don’t act, call your credit card company.
Don’t Save Your Personal Information Online
It may be convenient to let an online retailer that you often shop from save your personal and financial information, but this practice is usually not very safe. Identity thieves often try to breach customer databases and if your favorite online retailer gets hacked, you could suddenly be a target of identity theft.