The 1995 film “The Net” featuring Sandra Bullock left quite an impression on me back when I was a kid. It was fascinating to learn that there is a possibility of having your identity stolen through the internet. While of course the movie highlights what we can call an “extreme scenario”, the recent surge in ecommerce sales have also resulted in growing possibilities for identity theft.
The last thing you need is being a victim to such criminal activity. After all, the money we earn takes lots of effort and sweat. This is what makes it crucial to stay protected during online shopping, particularly during the Holiday’s Season like Singles’ Day, and the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday events. So, without further ado, refer to these tips below for a safer virtual purchasing experience.
Table of Contents
- Shop from Trusted Websites – Place Orders from a Secure Connection
- Use Familiar Ecommerce Stores – The More Famous, the Better!
- Do your Research on Less Reputed Stores – Analyze New Merchants
- Be Wary of Rock-Bottom Prices – Watch out for the Too-Good-To-Be-True
- Reveal Little Information – Never Give Out Too Much Personal Data
- Avoid Connecting to Public Wi-Fi – Hub for Clever Cybercriminals
- Use Strong Passwords – Learn How to Create Unique Ones
- Avoid Public Terminals – Never Use a Public Computer for Shopping
- Use a VPN Service – Leverage Anonymity and Better Shopping Deals
- Mobile Shopping – Extra Tips for Leveraging Security
- Wrapping Things Up
Shop from Trusted Websites – Place Orders from a Secure Connection
When it comes to shopping online, do not rely on search engine results. They can be optimized to lead you astray, especially as you move past the first two pages. At the same time, there is no guarantee they use a secure connection. Take it as a lesson never to buy anything online using your credit card, especially if the site does not impose SSL encryption. Also, never share your credit card information on email ever. Websites that use SSL start with HTTPS:// and display an icon of a locked padlock next to the URL.
Use Familiar Ecommerce Stores – The More Famous, the Better!
In real life, customers have the ability of checking whether certain inventory exists. Conversely, online you can find plenty websites that fabricate information just to get the credit card info of customers. If you want to play it safe, use familiar ecommerce stores with proven reputations. For instance, Amazon.com and Alibaba.com are both worldwide famous shopping sites. Then you have online stores for hit retail outlets like Home Depot, Best Buy, and Target. It is better to stick to trusted names in the industry.
Do your Research on Less Reputed Stores – Analyze New Merchants
While the names mentioned above do offer more buyer security, there is always a chance of finding better deals on less famous stores. In such cases, bring out your inner detective and analyze new merchants. Check out their social media presence, read customer reviews, and review their history of scam reports or complaints at the Better Business Bureau. If there is no sign of an email, phone, or address for a physical location, it is a clear indication of a phony company. Avoid shopping with them at all costs.
Be Wary of Rock-Bottom Prices – Watch out for the Too-Good-To-Be-True
There is no doubt that Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles’ Day are the biggest online shopping events. They bring with them amazing deals/discounts/specials, which eventually lead to buying sprees. However, sometimes things may not seem as simple as they are. Watch out for prices that appear too-good-to-be-true. You can do so by comparing the product costs at difference websites. If there is an obvious different, it will be a clear sign of a phony practice going on.
Reveal Little Information – Never Give Out Too Much Personal Data
There is no substitute for a well-informed mind. Prospects who regularly indulge in online shopping know never to reveal too much personal information. As such, if you come across any website that requires your Social Security number, or other vital personal data – you can easily figure out it is a scam. In such circumstances, it is better to walk away from the purchase. Search ecommerce stores with established reputations for your holiday buys, especially if you want to remain secure.
Avoid Connecting to Public Wi-Fi – Hub for Clever Cybercriminals
Some avid shoppers who browse deals/discounts on their phones/laptops regularly may be tempted to taking their shopping spree to a coffee shop, bar, or restaurant. Wi-Fi networks at such places are at high risk of being under surveillance of cybercriminals. They may create phony networks nearby legitimate names. To stay protected, consider using a VPN service like PureVPN Review, when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. It offers maximum anonymity to users when exploring the internet.
Use Strong Passwords – Learn How to Create Unique Ones
This may sound a bit cliché, but it is important for users to create strong, uncrackable passwords. If someone manages to get ahold of your password, they could change the shipping address and order things that could get you stuck with the bill. Secure your shopping accounts with strong passwords that use a complex set of lowercase and uppercase symbols, letters, and numbers. Avoid using personal info like your parents’ names, kids’ names, house phone number, birthdates, etc.
Avoid Public Terminals – Never Use a Public Computer for Shopping
You already know about the dangers of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Now, it is imperative to be aware of the dangers of using public terminals for purchases. Many public computers may use spyware or key loggers operated by cybercriminals. Their primary objective could be steal info from different users. At the same time, you can never know who may be spying on your activity, while your enter the credit card number and expiration date on the website. It is better to avoid public terminals entirely.
Use a VPN Service – Leverage Anonymity and Better Shopping Deals
If you cannot resist the charm of online shopping while sipping that Starbucks coffee, consider relying on the Best and Fastest VPN services. These privacy tools create an encrypted connection between the device you use and the server. This keeps your identity and IP address hidden and safe from interception of nearby hackers/cybercriminals. Moreover, it also gives you the ability of leveraging better deals by shifting your location to different countries/cities, where you can find amazing discounts/specials.
Mobile Shopping – Extra Tips for Leveraging Security
When shopping online using your mobile device, make sure to use credit cards only. They provide better protection for fraudulent charges, especially if your phone gets stolen. After making your purchase, do not rely on the merchant to email your receipt. Make it a habit to save the transaction in your buying history by taking a screen capture of the window. On Apple devices, press the “Home” and “Sleep” buttons simultaneously. For Android, hold down the “power” and “volume down” button to take a screenshot.
Wrapping Things Up
As online shopping becomes the norm, follow the above tips to leverage better purchasing security. Also, do not hesitate on taking action against fraudulent companies. File a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, if you are a victim of identity theft. Most importantly, never sit idle if you do not get your goods on time. You pay money for a service, and should not have to beg to get your product!