How to Shop Safely Online

Online shopping is a great way of buying items and services from the comfort of your home, saving you time, effort, and money. However, as the trend continues to flourish, so have the associated risks. Today, bad guys are always lying in wait to pounce on your card information and scam you out of your money.

Risks associated with online shopping:

Cybercriminals usually conduct these frauds using various methods. They include:

  • Data theft
  • Phishing
  • Malware
  • Fake online reviews
  • Counterfeit goods, etc.

According to Action Fraud, the UK alone witnessed 42,949 incidents of online shopping fraud in 2018, with loses of £58m. This illustrates that although online shopping is very convenient, it can also be extremely dangerous.

How to stay safe while shopping Online:

You can’t just give up on online shopping altogether; you’d never survive. All you need to do is know how to keep your information safe, and here are a few tips to help you shop online safely.

Certify the legitimacy & security of the website

Before you start shopping, you need to ensure that the store is legitimate and the website is secure. Fraudsters usually create lookalike platforms and then trick you into giving out sensitive information. Since they have already given you a sense of security, you end up giving away your data.

To prevent this, always double-check the website’s URL. Ensure that there are no spelling mistakes. Also, check the website’s security through the following:

  • Padlock Symbol: This should be next to the website address
  • https://: Ensure that the website isn’t http://, which would mean that it’s not encrypted. Click on the address bar to see this.
  • Valid certificate: Once you click on the padlock, you should see information about the certificate.

Ensure Wi-Fi security

Public Wi-Fi hotspots are the best hideout spots for hackers and scammers. Most of these networks don’t use encryption, and whenever you enter your personal information while connected, you set yourself up for identity theft. It only requires a little know-how and the right software for an identity thief to grab your name and credit card information whenever you are shopping online.

If at all you have to use public Wi-Fi networks, it’s important to turn on your VPN first. The software will encrypt all your traffic and protect your data from any third-party who may try to intercept it.

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Secure your computer

Always ensure that your computer is protected from cyber threats by installing the necessary security software. These are programs like antivirus or antimalware software and a firewall to filter unwanted attention from hackers. You can also get a full security suite that combines this with online protection features that fight spam, spear-phishing emails, and malicious websites.

Apart from this, always ensure that you update your software since hackers can take advantage of loopholes in older software to attack you. This includes everything from your operating system to your browser.

Do not overshare

Never give out more information than you need to. The standard requirements for online shopping are your billing information, shipping address, and your name and contact information. Legitimate online shops will not ask for personal details such as your social security number. Always remember that the more scammers know about you, the easier it is to steal your identity.

Use a virtual credit card

If you are not familiar with these, a virtual credit card is an online card that allows you to shop online without exposing your real card details. These virtual cards are issued by banks, and they are only temporary. They are linked to your account, but they expire within a short time and generally have a lower maximum spending amount.

In the very least, set aside a single traditional credit card for online use. This way, the damage and hassle will be minimal if you do get hacked.

Check your statements regularly

Some of us only wait for the bill to come at the end of the month. This is however not a safe practice if you shop online. You should regularly request electronic statements of your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. This will help you identify any fraudulent charges early.

Also, it’s advisable to only use your credit card (if you have one) for online purchases. If your debit card is compromised, the scammers will have direct access to your funds. Credit cards are more secure thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act which ensures that you are only responsible for up to $50 of charges you didn’t authorize in case of any scamming.

Practice good Password Policy

Passwords are usually the biggest points of weakness in online systems. Always ensure that you use a strong password and that you do not use the password in multiple accounts. Apart from that, update your passwords every three to six months. You can get a password manager to help you with managing the passwords.

Stay Vigilant

Always ensure that you practice safe online behavior. Avoid suspicious links and offers as well as deals that look too good, because they may be. Also, ensure that you keep your VPN turned on whenever shopping online. This will encrypt your traffic and make it impossible for hackers to intercept your data.

Stay Safe When Shopping Online With NymGuard VPN

Download NymGuard today on your PC or smartphone and protect yourself from cyber-criminals when shopping online.

Get NymGuard Now


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