Guide to Secure Online Shopping
Online shopping is convenient, we all love it. How many times have you purchased something from Amazon this week? Consider following these steps to keep your information protected.
Use Guest Checkout
If you’re expecting that this will be just a one-time purchase (or you want to use an abundance of caution), use guest checkout. This will save you from making an account. Keep in mind that any store or site you make an account with can leak your information if they are careless or get hacked. Do you really want your address getting out there for the sake of a few seconds saved from your pizza order?
Don’t Save Information
Most online stores save your information, including address and payment information, by default. Unless you want to use the site very often and trust them a great deal, don’t save this information. As an added incentive, having to manually enter credit card information every time makes it a little easier to avoid online shopping binges.
Keep in mind that browsers also save information. If your browser is ever compromised (or your laptop or phone ever stolen), you probably don’t want potential thieves to have such easy access to credit card numbers or other valuable data.
Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi
It’s very easy for hackers to compromise public Wi-Fi and harvest your data. If a hacker is intercepting your data while you’re using public Wi-Fi and you happen to go shopping, they can log every keystroke you type. Save the online shopping for trusted networks only.
Be Sure You’re Buying From Who You Think You’re Buying –
First of all, check the URL to make sure you’re at the site you think you’re at. Worst case, scammers can set up fake sites that look like the real thing to harvest data. More likely, you could be on the US version of the site and end up spending more than you want.
It’s also important to keep in mind that many sites, including big ones like Amazon, host resellers, and sometimes you can get multiple sellers selling the exact same thing. For example, you might want the newest PS4 game directly from Amazon and think that’s what you’ve clicked, but only by looking over your order at the review stage do you realize you’re actually buying from a reseller, which comes with more risk than you want, never mind an unknown return policy and track record.
Finally, it’s worth noting that lots of sites can host resellers that are actually reselling counterfeit goods. Study products carefully, look over serial numbers, and beware the growing knock-off goods market.
Understand the Return Policy
Many online retailers have return policies. But you want to get to know what they are before you buy. Is it as easy as printing out a custom label and making a trip down to the UPS, or will you have to wait with your goods on your porch for the delivery guy to swing by? How long do you have? Are there rules about returning all the packaging? Are delivery fees refundable or no?
Consider a Dedicated Online Shopping Credit Card
Occasionally, having a credit card number stolen happens when you shop online. If you want to minimize your headache, consider having a credit card with a low balance limit you only use for online shopping. If it gets compromised the damage is minimized and your other cards for stuff like phone bills won’t be affected.
The Big Takeaway
It’s unfortunate that there are scammers, hackers, and knock-off sellers out there ruining the online shopping experience. However, a few simple steps can make life a bit more challenging for them. Embrace these steps and keep yourself safe when online shopping.