Online shopping is more popular than ever, with global e-commerce sales expected to reach $5.5 trillion in 2022. According to eMarketer,
New research from marketing software firm wunderkind found that 71% of US consumers plan to shop online this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
With that growth has come more opportunities for identity thieves, hackers and scammers to get a hold of shoppers’ financial information.
When the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants organized a survey In December of 2020, nearly one in five respondents said they had been a victim of identity theft or attempted identity theft in the past year.
Online security expert Chris Bluvshtein VPNOverview.com Here are our top 10 tips for keeping yourself safe while shopping online during the holidays this year.
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Stick to Websites You Know
You might be tempted by a Google link promising an amazing deal, but before you click, look at the name. If it’s not something you recognize, don’t go there, Blauwstein said.
“Hackers can trick you into giving them your data by using names similar to high street brands, so double check the site is one you know. Google also tells you if you’ve been to a site before, So it is worth taking your time and checking those details,” he said.
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If you make a purchase on an unfamiliar site, Brian Capp, director of IT security at Davie University, said there are several warning signs to look for in order to determine if the website is safe:
- The site looks unprofessional or poorly designed.
- Links are broken or disabled.
- There is no contact information listed.
- Return or privacy policies are unclear or missing.
- Item prices are incredibly low.
- Credit card credentials are requested for additional reasons not related to your purchase.
- Shipping and additional charges seem unusual.
- The site has an overwhelming number of negative reviews, or no reviews at all.
Check URL bar
“Make sure the website you’re browsing is secure by looking for a ‘lock’ icon next to the web address,” Capp said. DeVry’s Published Tips for Online Shopping,
“If a website doesn’t have one of these, don’t give out your bank details or valuable information,” Blauwshtein said.
check your bank statement
By making it a habit to check your bank account and statements, you’ll be able to catch any suspicious activity early.
Your bank will have information on any deadlines for reporting fraudulent purchases, so be sure to keep track of your statements.
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Use a Password Manager
The most secure thing you can do is to use a unique, random password for all of your accounts.
But instead of writing those on Post-It notes or notebooks, use a password manager to keep them all in one place, Bluvshtein said.
“Password managers lock your information behind a master password and many of them autofill website logins for you, keeping you safe from keylogger attacks,” he said.
The National Cyber Security Alliance echoes this tip and recommends enabling multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
“[Multi-factor authentication]will strengthen your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics or a unique one-time code sent to your phone or mobile device,” the coalition said. Tip Sheet for Online Shopping it is said.
Don’t shop on public Wi-Fi
You might be tempted to visit your favorite shopping site while sipping coffee at your local cafe, but using a public Wi-Fi connection is notoriously dangerous, Blaustein said.
“Public Wi-Fi rarely has security protocols in place such as passwords and hackers can steal unsecured banking details and sensitive information without your knowledge.”
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use mobile payment
Apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay can protect your banking details, so if a website accepts them, it’s best to use them instead of your debit card.
or use a credit card
Experts advise that if the item is of value, do not use your debit card to pay for it.
This is because credit cards have more protection in case of fraud as compared to debit cards.
Set up a temporary bank account
By opening an online-only bank account, you can control the amount you can receive with transfers from your normal account.
That way, even if your details are compromised, the hacker can’t do anything to your real bank account, Blaustein said.
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use a vpn
A VPN protects your data from prying eyes. Everything you send is encrypted, so even if a hacker sees you on a network, they won’t be able to access your sensitive information.
“VPN connects you to a remote server and hides your IP, using one along with any of our other tips can make your online shopping super secure,” said Bluvshtein.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Be wary of any advertisements for surprise deals. You may never find the item or there may be hidden dangers. This old adage still holds true when it comes to online shopping.