There are more reasons than ever to shop online. Great deals, the selection is mind-boggling, shipping is fast and you don’t have to leave your home. But, is your information secure? Studies say the number one current cybercrime is related to online shopping. So, how do you protect yourself online? Tech Expert Lisa Chang shares her best practices.
- Make purchases from trusted retailers
Start with a trusted retailer. If you know the site, chances are it’s less likely to be a rip-off. Just about every major retail outlet has an online store. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example)—those are the oldest tricks in the book. Look for credible reviews of products or companies you haven’t heard of.
- Look for the SSL lock
When you start shopping look for the lock. Never buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS—instead of just HTTP. An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically to the left of the URL in the address bar or the status bar down below; it depends on your browser.
- Don’t overshare
A credible shopping site won’t ask for information like your birthdate. At no point in time should you be entering your personal information to buy a product. Like Social Insurance number or birthdate.
- Use an app that masks your credit card
Many computers auto save your credit card info. Is this safe to do? Don’t auto save. Change passwords frequently – make them hard to guess. Or use the BLUR app to auto populate and track your information – acts as a basic password manager and oh so much more. For $39 US a year, it’ll let you shop without revealing anything about your actual self—no emails, phone numbers, or even credit card numbers. It’s one of the most impressive online privacy solutions.
- Check your credit card statement regularly
Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly to view electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Keep an eye out for any fraudulent charges.
- Skip the credit card and use your phone
Paying for items using your smartphone is pretty standard these days in brick-and-mortar stores, and is actually even more secure than using your credit card. Using a mobile payment app like Apple Pay generates a one-time-use authentication code for the purchase that no one else could ever steal and use. How does that matter if you’re online shopping? Many phone apps will now accept payment using Apple Pay and Google Pay. You just need your fingerprint, face, or passcode to make it happen instantly.
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