7 things to take care during online shopping
Shopping online has become a part of our lives but some still worry that their credit card details will be given to the wrong person. Online shopping is certainly here to stay and online security continues to advance. There are arguments that shopping online can be safer than shopping over the phone or even in person, as you never hand your card details over to another person. Most of us couldn’t do without the convenience of online shopping. Whether it means getting the best price on the latest video game or purchasing the perfect pair of shoes, online shopping gives us access to products, services, and special deals that might be unavailable to us otherwise.
However, online shopping has its risks. The popularity—and profitability—of online retail has resulted in unscrupulous people looking to take advantage of unwary shoppers.
With risks that differ from walk-in stores, online shopping requires special precautions. To protect yourself and your information, read on for 7 steps to take before you plug in your credit card number and click “Buy.”
- Use a good anti-malware program
This may sound obvious, but many people ignore the advice to install anti-malware software. It is critical that online shoppers secure their PC from viruses and other attacks.
To ensure that your security program’s protection stays current, keep its virus and malware signatures up-to-date. Fortunately, most programs can automatically update these signatures, so be sure the automatic updating feature is enabled in your software.
Further, because viruses can swiftly change and mutate, use a program designed to detect newly created or mutated threats even before their signature is part of the automatic updates. iolo’s System Shield® AntiVirus&AntiSpyware uses Sentient Technology, a heuristic feature that adapts to yet unclassified attacks based on behavioural analysis.
- Share payment information only with known or reputable vendors
The single best thing you can to do protect yourself is to be careful about who you’re giving your payment details to. If you’re not entirely sure whether the retailer you’re visiting is reliable, do some research to verify its authenticity and security?
Or use a third-party payment processor instead of giving your payment information directly to the online store. Most accept payment from trusted third-party processors, such as PayPal or Google Checkout. This limits the risk of your payment details getting into the wrong hands, because it is ultimately handled by fewer online entities.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card
Credit cards can be the safer choice for online shopping—if someone manages to intercept your financial information online, they can do less damage and you have more recourse than if you’d used a debit card. This is for two reasons:
Credit cards have spending limits, while debit cards—which are directly linked to your bank account—do not.
You can dispute fraudulent charges made to a credit card without being out-of-pocket the amount in dispute, but money withdrawn directly from your checking account by a debit card is much more difficult to recover.
Consider using a credit card with a low credit limit specifically for your online purchases. And some banks now offer “one-time use” or “virtual” credit cards that are designed specifically for online shopping—these are good only for one transaction from a specific vendor.
- Make sure the order checkout area is encrypted
Before you purchase anything from a web site, verify that the vendor has encrypted its payment form. Many sites use SSL (secure sockets layer) technology to encrypt information flowing between your computer and the store’s server; this is typically indicated with a padlock icon and a web site address that begins with “https:” instead of “http:”.
- Print or save a copy of your orders
It’s always a good idea to keep documentation of your online purchases. Most retailers will send you an email or refer you to a web page with a confirmation of your purchase; this page should include a purchase receipt and a confirmation number. Print or save the confirmation and keep it until you receive your product.
- Use strong passwords
Often, one of the most critical security steps is the one we give the least attention to—our passwords. Passwords can be the best security defences we have, but if they’re not created properly, a hacker can easily guess them. For any online shopping accounts you have, be sure to create good passwords. Read tips on how to create passwords you can remember but others can’t guess.
- Check your statements often
To ensure that no unknown or fraudulent charges have been posted to your accounts, check your statements every month. If you see a charge that looks out of the ordinary, report it to your credit card company or financial institution immediately.
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