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How To Stay Safe When Shopping Online

Shopping online is great. You can get so much accomplished without leaving your desk. And it’s also great for comparison shopping to get the bargains out there. But there are downsides to online shopping. Hackers are also shopping as well – they’re shopping for your confidential information.

To stay safe when entering your credit card or other private data online, you should follow some basic guidelines.

10 Ways To Stay Safe When Shopping Online

Protect Your Computer

To protect against malware and other viruses make sure you keep your antivirus program up to date. Even better, sign up for a full security suite that protects you from viruses, phishing, spam and other forms of cybercrime. Keep in mind that it’s not enough to install these tools, they must be kept up to date because new threats are being released all the time.

Privatize Your Wi-Fi

When shopping online, use your secure Internet connection or Wi-Fi. Don’t shop over public hotspots like those in coffee shops, airport lounges and other public places.

You can also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for safe shopping. Sign up for this service from a reliable vendor online or through your IT service company. It provides a protective barrier between your device and the websites you connect to.

A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts the network you use. If you are shopping using a public Wi-Fi, the VPN will secure your connection, so you won’t have to worry about hackers viewing your confidential data.

Watch Out For Over-The-Shoulder-Snoopers

If you’re shopping online while at the mall or in a coffee shop, always keep your back to a wall so no one can look over your shoulder and view your IDs and passcodes. If you can’t find a private location either wait to shop until you can, or only access the shopping sites that already have your credentials stored so you don’t have to key them in.

Only Shop On Websites That You’re Familiar With

Be careful about being led to fake shopping websites. Use the services from online stores that you’re familiar with. You know that you can trust sites like Amazon, Alibaba and major retail outlets. Keep an eye out for misspellings in web addresses, or sites that use a different domain (.net instead of .com). This is your hint that it’s a fake site.

Look For HTTPS

Be sure the URL for the shopping site begins with HTTPS (not HTTP). This means that it’s a secure site with SSL encryption (secure socket layer). You should also see a lock icon to the left of the URL in the address bar. Any website you visit today should have SSL encryption. If not, any data you enter will be available to hackers.

Use Strong Passwords

Create long (more than 12 characters) and complex passwords, and never use the same passwords on different sites. If one gets cracked, then a hacker can use it to access information on other sites that you use.

It’s easy for hackers to crack passwords that contain only letters and numbers. Be sure to add special characters. And don’t use words in your passwords – only letters, numbers and symbols that don’t mean anything. Think of a phrase you can remember and use the first letters in words. Consider using a $ instead of an S or a ! instead of an L or including a & #@or %. Also, consider using a password manager like Last Pass or Dashlane where you can create and store secure passwords for your different accounts.

Use Mobile Apps

Download the apps for online stores that you use (like Target or Amazon). This is the safest way to access their sites via your mobile device. This way you can find what you want and purchase it directly without going to the store’s website.

Use Your Phone To Pay

Believe it or not, paying for items with your smartphone is more secure than using a credit or debit card. Use mobile payment applications like Apple Pay or Google Pay that generate a one-time code for each purchase. Plus, if you’re not carrying your credit cards around, the card skimmers won’t be able to access them.

Watch Those Gift Cards Scams

Gift cards are trendy today. However, scammers are out their auctioning them off on sites like eBay. Don’t trust these as they may not have any funds on them, or you’ll get one that’s already been used. Go directly to the brick-and-mortar store to purchase your gift card.

Don’t Share More Than Necessary

If an online store asks for your Social Security number or your birthday, leave this site. No shopping site needs this information — The least amount of personal data you share, the better. Even significant retailers get breached (like Target was a few years ago). So take all precautions when shopping online.

Do your research, especially when using a new website. Read reviews and see what other consumers have experienced. Always STOP – THINK- then CONNECT. If you need more information about safe shopping online, contact the IT Security Experts at Network Heroes in Las Vegas.

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