Online shopping has become a big part of our lives. It lets us do our shopping from home, which is really convenient. In fact, a recent NPR/Marist poll showed that 69% of Americans have shopped online, and 25% do so at least once a month. As more and more people shop online, it’s important to be aware of the risks involved and take precautions to protect your information. This article will discuss some tips for keeping your information safe while shopping online.
1. Make Sure the Website Is Reputable
If you’re not sure whether or not a website is reputable, do some research online or ask friends for recommendations. Several websites (such as BBB) offer ratings and reviews of different online businesses.
Tip: When checking out, look for the ‘lock’ icon in your browser’s address bar and make sure the web address starts with ‘HTTPS.’ This indicates that the site is using a secure connection.
2. Use Strong Passwords
One of the best ways to protect your information while shopping online is to use strong passwords. Be sure to create passwords that are at least eight characters long and include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
You should also never use the same password for multiple websites. If someone gets access to your password, they could potentially access all of your online accounts.
Tip: Use a password manager to help you create and manage strong passwords. Password managers like LastPass can generate randomized passwords for you and store them securely in an encrypted vault.
3. Avoid Using Debit Cards
When shopping online, it’s best to avoid using debit cards. Debit cards are connected to your bank account and can be easily hacked or stolen. If your debit card information is compromised, hackers could drain your bank account.
Instead, use a credit card when shopping online. Credit cards offer more protection than debit cards in the event of fraud or theft. They also come with built-in fraud protection, which can help you get your money back if something goes wrong.
4. Watch Out for Phishing Scams
In 2019, over 35,000 people were arrested in Pennsylvania for theft. Some of these thieves use phishing scams to steal people’s information.
Phishing scams are emails or websites that attempt to trick you into giving away your personal information. They often look very official and may even include the logo of a reputable company.
If you receive a message like this, do not click on any links or provide any personal information. Instead, open a new browser window and go directly to the website in question. If you’re not sure whether an email is legitimate, contact the company directly to see if they sent it.
5. Never Give More Information Than Necessarily
According to the FBI, cybercrimes have risen 300% since the pandemic in the United States. As a result, it’s important to be vigilant about the amount of information you share online.
When shopping online, never give more information than you have to. For example, you don’t need to give your Social Security number or driver’s license number to most online stores.
If there are optional fields on a checkout form, leave them blank. This will help protect your information in the event of a data breach.
6. Avoid Public Networks
When shopping online, it’s best to avoid using public networks (like the Wi-Fi at a coffee shop). Public networks are not secure and can easily be hacked. This means that your information could be compromised if you use them to shop online. Instead, use your home Wi-Fi or your cellular data connection when shopping online.
According to researchers, there have been at least 4 billion records exposed due to data breaches in the first half of 2019. This means that now, more than ever, it’s important to take precautions while you shop from home. By following the tips above, you can help protect your information and keep your data safe.