Do you shop online? Some of the best deals are available through online retailers, and online shopping is a great way to maximize your dollars. But how do you know you can trust that online retailer? How can you tell if that retailer’s website is secure? Will your credit card information be safe, not stolen by one of those cyber thieves you’ve heard about in the news?
Ten Tips For Safe, Secure Online Shopping
With a bit of know-how and due-diligence, you can shop online, safely and securely. Read on for tips you can implement today to ensure your next online purchase is safe and secure, no cyber thieves lurking over your shoulder.
Shop only at Secure WebSites
First and foremost, shop only at websites that are secure. How do you know if a website is secure? Two specific secure website indicators will let you know.
HTTPS please! Check the URL address. If it starts with HTTPS, you should be good to go. If it’s HTTP, then it’s a no-go. That S stands for Secure, meaning that website has set up appropriate safeguards to enable safe online shopping.
PadLock-Tight! Look for the padlock icon in the URL bar. It can be on either the left, or the right side. Just make sure it’s there somewhere.
When initially shopping, you might not see either of these secure website indicators. Don’t worry – yet! Once you begin the check-out process, and before you enter any personal information, double check the URL bar. If these indicators are not there by now, move on. Don’t buy from this site.
Purchase Only Through Secure WiFi Spots
Online shopping at Starbucks and found a great offer? Don’t even think about buying it right now! Making purchases while connected via public WiFi puts you at greater risk of exposing your credit card information to cyber thieves. Go ahead and window shop, just wait until you are at a secure WiFi spot before making a purchase. Never give credit card information over unsecured WiFi.
Pay With A Credit Card, Not A Debit Card
Credit cards are a more secure payment method than debit cards. Most credit card companies offer better consumer protection than bank debit cards. Credit card companies typically offer purchase protection in case your card is stolen, limit liability to $50 or less for unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and provide an avenue for dispute if that purchase is not as promised, or not delivered.
Always review your credit card statement to ensure the proper amounts are charged, and that there are no erroneous or fraudulent charges. Call your credit card immediately if you suspect fraudulent charges.
Another suggestion? Only purchase what you can pay off at the end of your credit card cycle. Carrying a balance and incurring interest charges can, and often will, negate any savings gained from your online purchase.
Pay With Paypal
Don’t Send Credit Card Details via Email
Emails are not secure. Providing a retailer, or anyone else for that matter, your credit card information via email is fraught with risk. Cyber thieves are just waiting to snatch that information. Don’t do it. Ever.
Password Protect Mobile Devices
Love shopping with your mobile device? Make purchases from your smartphone? Then you better add password protection. Shopping apps often archive purchasing information, including credit card numbers. Play it safe, and password protect your device.
Be Wary of Email Phishing, Text Smishing Scams
Phishing – Just got an awesome email offer for that item you’ve been waiting to buy? Great! Or not. Many email shopping links are valid, but sadly, there are phishing scams too, hoping you’ll open their links instead of legitimate retailers’ links. If that deal is real, go directly to the website, and don’t use the link.
SMishing – Received a text message saying you’ve just won something and all you need to do is provide a credit card to cover the costs of shipping? Yeah, no. Don’t do it. It’s probably the latest scam, called SMishing.
Social Security Numbers Not Needed
Online retailers don’t need your social security number, nor your birth date, to complete a purchase. If you are asked to provide a social security number, that’s a huge red flag. Run, don’t walk, from that website.
Know That Retailer!
Considering a purchase at an online retailer not familiar to you? Before you complete that purchase, take a few minutes’ time to research the retailer’s credibility. A quick Internet search of the retailer’s name with the word, “reviews,” should provide the details you need to verify the retailer’s credibility. Rule of thumb? Only purchase from reputable online retailers.
The same rule applies with shopping apps. Review before you download. If the app has lots of one-star reviews, you might not want to shop with it. Another suggestion – only download shopping apps through official app stores like the App Store for IOS devices or Google Play for Android.
Trust Your Gut
In the end, if that deal looks too good to be true, it might just be. If that online retailer’s email seems phishy, perhaps it is. Do your homework before clicking Buy. Then trust your instincts. If you sense something is “off” move on. That purchase isn’t worth it
Arm yourself with these online shopping security tips. You should now be good to go and hunt down that best online bargain, and be safe doing so!
Do you have an online secure shopping tip to share? Tell us about it. We’d love to hear it.
Images from: PayPal, Athleta, Zementa, PayPal, Flickr via ivanpw, AARP, Visions Fed. Credit Union.