Online shopping has grown tremendously and will continue to grow, especially fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers will be doing plenty of online shopping during the holidays. Shopping has never been easier or more convenient for consumers who can buy almost anything from the comfort of their homes. And while there are some risks with shopping online, there are also ways to protect yourself and your financial information. You have to use common sense and follow practical advice. The following tips will help you stay safe while shopping online.
Verify your transactions are private
Do not make purchases online using a credit card from a website that doesn't have SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption. You'll know because the address for the site will start with HTTPS instead of just HTTP. The “S” stands for “Secure” and indicates that the communication with the webpage is encrypted. You’ll also see a lock icon, which you can click for more information about the website’s security.
The padlock symbol (lock icon) means the web page you are visiting is secure. You can click the lock icon for more information about the website’s security.
Ensure your computer is protected
Keep your computer updated, make sure it has the latest security updates installed. Ensure your anti-virus software is running correctly and is updating automatically. Check that your firewall is on before you begin your online shopping. Upgrade your Internet browser to the most recent version available.
Be wary of emails requesting information
Cybercriminals will attempt to get your information by sending emails requesting you confirm purchases or account information. Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email. Do not provide sensitive information through email. If you receive an unsolicited email from a business, instead of clicking on the provided link, directly log on to the authentic website by typing the address yourself.
Use strong passwords
Here at Kappa, we cannot stress this enough - create strong passwords for online accounts. Use at least eight characters, with numbers, special characters, and upper and lower case letters. Don’t use the same passwords for online shopping websites that you use for logging onto your bank, home, or work computer. Never share your login information with anyone.
Use an official online shopping app. Use apps provided directly by retailers, like Amazon and Target. Keep your shopping apps up to date with the latest available updates. Also, set your device to automatically install updates, which should help ensure your smartphone has the newest security measures in place.
Online shopping during the holidays has grown and is convenient, but it is also convenient for cybercriminals and scammers. They will use this busy time to trick us into paying for goods we won’t receive or obtain personal information for financial gain. Always think before you click. Remember the first line of defense is YOU.