Protect Yourself While Shopping Online

Protect Yourself While Shopping Online

Online shopping can be quick and convenient in locating the right item without leaving the house. This holiday season consumers are expected to take much of their shopping online again given the ongoing global pandemic. With supply shortages and shipping delays, people may also begin their holiday online shopping earlier than before.

Hackers, unfortunately, use the shopping season to try to steal your sensitive security and financial information to create false credit accounts or purchases under your name.

For Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, here are some tips to help protect your finances while shopping online:

Avoid using debit cards to make online purchases

When shopping online it’s best to stick to credit cards or payment services such as Pay Pal or Apple Pay.

Debit cards are linked to your bank accounts, and if your accounts are hacked, it may be more difficult to recoup fraudulent cash purchases. Credit cards offer more protection and less liability if a card number gets stolen.

When a fraudulent site or transaction is found, most credit card companies will immediately reverse the charge and conduct an investigation. If you use your debit card and there is a problem, your bank may not give you the money back until after a full investigation is completed, which could take weeks or months.

This is the one time when it pays to put it on plastic.

Shop at secure sites only

Before entering any personal or financial information verify that the site you’re using is legitimate and secure.

Look for “https” at the beginning of a site’s address. If you don’t see the “s”, which stands for secure, at the end of “http,” the site is not encrypted and your data will not be secure. All legitimate shopping sites will have the “s” for your protection.

Don’t fall for “too good to be true” offers and deals

Scammers use the holiday season to send out viruses and malware in the guise of a gift or special offer. Don’t open emails from someone you don’t know or a site you haven’t visited. Watch for phony messages from your bank or other financial institution saying there is an alert or problem with your account. Always call the bank directly to verify any potential problems and never enter your account information in response to these types of e-mails.

Also, beware of online links to deals that are too good to be true. If you’re really tempted by an offer, do some research or find out if anyone else has tried to take advantage of the deal before clicking.

Avoid public Wi-Fi spots if possible

Accessing public wi-fi spots while using your smartphone or laptop at a shopping center or other establishment is convenient and free, but also leaves your financial information potentially exposed.

Because public networks aren’t secured, any information you enter on is ripe for hackers. Don’t log in to banking or financial sites, or payment sites like PayPal on a public network. And make sure that you are logged out of such sites on mobile devices before connecting to a public network.

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