It may feel safe to shop online, but that’s far from the truth. Two things are needed for it to be safe – an online store that cares about customer security and smart consumers who know how
to keep their personal information secure. With just a few simple rules and tricks, it will be much easier to indulge in online shopping without being too nervous about your web safety.
Key rules to shop online safely
1. Make sure you’re visiting a legitimate e-commerce site
Before entering any personal information to complete your purchase, make sure that you’re on the right online store. There are a lot of opportunities for scammers to redirect you to the wrong website, or in other words, spoof the URL. You might think that you are looking for a new signature smell from Aēsop but you find yourself on “aeseop.com” (a hypothetical example). If so, it’s time to delete everything you just entered and leave right away!
2. Never shop on public Wi-Fi
If at all possible, never shop online on public Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi is the perfect place for scammers and hackers to do their nasty work. These networks have very low security and can be scanned by hackers looking for weak connections. Public computers are also highly insecure, but there are ways to improve your security.
If you absolutely must use public Wi-Fi, then it’s essential to use a VPN (virtual private network) service. A trustworthy VPN, such as NordVPN, will create an encrypted tunnel between your device and the website you're visiting so that all your shopping activities are thoroughly protected. The VPN connection will also make sure that your online banking or credit card credentials will be safe when you hit “Buy.”
3. Monitor your debit card and credit card statements
It might sound apparent but you should always keep track of your purchases and their prices. This can help you quickly spot potential hacks or shady business practices. Fraudulent businesses might overstate their discounts or add hidden fees that you will be charged only when your purchase is complete.
If you use a banking application, turn on push notifications to track the payments you make. You can even call your bank to see what other notification options they might have or just order debit card or credit card statements. Look out for false charges. When you see one, contact your bank to dispute the charge and freeze the card. That will make the leaked information useless in the hacker’s hands.
4. Practice good password security
Good password security is always important, but it’s easy to forget this when you’re making new shopping accounts for different online shopping sites. Creating unique and secure passwords for every site (and remembering them) can be rather stressful if you plan on doing a lot of shopping, but some tools will help you, for example, password managers, such as NordPass. A credible password manager will safely store all of your passwords and even banking information in a single place, which shall free up your memory and increase the shopping speed.
5. The less information you give, the better
After completing a few purchases on trusted websites, you start to get an idea of what sort of data they always require:
● Your billing information;
● The address where you want them to ship your product;
● Your name and contact info.
Some websites may ask for extra information for their advertising purposes, but it shouldn't be mandatory to fill in. No website should ask for your passport number or your password to another site to sell you something. If they ask, turn around and run – you were probably about to get scammed.
And one last piece of advice – always stay observant. If something sounds too good to be true online, it’s probably a scam.