Online shopping can be very convenient, but is it safe? Check out these 5 tips to make sure you are being safe when shopping online.
We hope you’ve got your holiday shopping well underway. We wish we had our holiday shopping done! But if you’ve also put off the inevitable, you’re in that sweet spot where shopping online is still an option, but you’re maybe a little frantic about it getting there on time. And sometimes the chaos of the season makes us forget to be safe while shopping online. Sometimes our desire to get the perfect gift or to support small or local retailers means we miss some of the online shopping red flags. We’re putting these tips together to help you get through this holiday season securely.
Check out these 5 tips to make sure you’re shopping safely online.
1. Shop on trusted, secure sites
This seems like a no brainer, but when you see something that would be perfect for grandma on a site you’ve never been to before that specializes in knitting needles, check a few things first:
a. Make sure it’s an accredited business. You can check with your local business registration departments or the Better Business Bureau.
b. Check to make sure the website is secure
i. When you look at the URL at the top of the page, does it start with https or http? If it is http, then the website does not have encrypted traffic, making it easier for someone to intercept and track all of your internet activity.
To make it even easier, most modern browsers have incorporated the lock icon on the URL bar. If the lock icon next to the URL is closed, your communication with the website is secure. An open lock on the URL bar is the digital equivalent of leaving the door unlocked when you leave for your family trip to Paris. If you managed to remember all your children, and if you haven’t left an 8-year old behind to defend your home against the wet bandits, then they will be able to access all of your possessions.
Don’t leave your digital information out there for anyone to steal.
c. Don’t shop in public
i. Not all public wi-fi is problematic, but be smart about it. Use your cellular connection or a secured wi-fi option when you have to enter personal or financial details online.
ii. If you have to get your credit card out from your wallet or purse to enter the information, don’t do it where anyone else can see. While we all love the season of giving, don’t give away your financial information so easily.
2. Only share what you need to
a. Definitely never share more than you need to. Sites that require overly personal information like your social security number are probably not where you want to be shopping.
3. Use a credit card or 3rd party payment system
Like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc. so you don’t actually share your card information with vendors. Using these options protects shoppers by either restricting the information the actual site receives or by incorporating the backend liability protection provided by credit card companies.
4. Use apps from the actual vendor when shopping on your mobile phone
And remember tip 1 when shopping on a computer – use sites you know
a. This is important to double-check when you’re clicking on links from emails or ads on websites. If the link is in an email, make sure the email address is one you know and trust, not just the name it says it’s from. You don’t want to end up entering your credit card information after clicking a link from an email if you’re not sure it is secure. So go directly to the apps and websites you know and trust if the email or link is questionable.