Online shopping has grown more popular in the last few years, especially in the past 20 months. The prevalence of Covid-19 has caused many people, that were once used to visiting retail outlets, to be more home-bound. Almost anything can be acquired online these days. Unfortunately, this has also led to an increase in fraud and identity theft. Here are some steps to protect yourself from falling victim to online scams or theft.
Always Use Websites with an SSL
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. This means that when you visit a website you have to look for evidence that this site is an encrypted website. SSL means that third party cannot intercept any data. This encryption becomes increasingly important when you are transacting via a credit card. To identify an encrypted website, you can look for the following:
- Look for a padlock in front of the website’s address (URL) in your browser.
- If the website’s URL starts with HTTPS (instead of HTTP) then there is a valid SSL certificate present.
- Locate the address and contact information of the company.
Make Sure You Are Using Safe Payment Methods
Fraud or identity theft occur when payment information is compromised. Credit cards, such as Visa or MasterCard, are typically safer than debit or ATM cards as the shopper is less liable for loss from fraudulent use.
Always check your bank statements for anomalies and promptly respond to any suspected activity. Never store the card details on your device and re-enter the card details with each new transaction. In addition, avoid providing additional sensitive information that is not needed for the transaction. Try to use virtual payment methods, such as Skrill or PayPal, which protect your actual credit card data.
The online gambling sector is also leading the way in offering innovative online payments. In fact, if you ever played Online Slots UK, you have probably noticed that this online casino is also using secure payment methods.
Use A Limited Payment Debit Card
If you have no choice to use a debit card, try to transact with a limited payment debit card. Also called chip debit cards, you can use them online at sites that expressly accept credit cards. They are usually faster and more convenient. However, you can manage and adjust your daily point-of-sale limits.
If the card information gets compromised, then the third party cannot exceed your limits. This will give you a chance to cancel the card with your financial institution. Limits can also be raised for specific transactions so that the card is not declined unexpectedly. Always refer to your bank’s policy on limits.
Shop from reputable, well-known websites
When you shop online, always shop at reputable and popular websites such as Amazon. Most reputable retailers also make shopping apps available for mobile devices. Remember to download shopping apps for reputable sources such as the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
Make sure that you pay attention to the permissions that any shopping app asks you to grant. If the app makes an unusual request, such as accessing your contact list, then make sure you decline it. Also check out the review and comments posted in the app store for suspicious and fraudulent behaviour and trends. On top of that, ensure that your device has security in place such as passcodes or facial recognition. Above all, never leave your device unlocked and log out completely after transacting on a site or app.
Always pick strong passwords
The best security to keep your private information safe remains the use of unique, secure passwords. If you use the same password for all your shopping sites and apps, take time to change them. The use of a password manager is recommended to assist you to generate complicated passwords.
More people have resorted to the use of password phrases. Although it is easier for you to remember, they are more complex and harder to crack. Refrain from using a common saying or phrase that can be easily completed or guessed.
As the increased in online shopping activity increases, unfortunately so does online hacking. Hackers are getting more sophisticated, so make sure you protect your online persona. Only shop at reputable shopping sites that display their encryption policies and have visual proof that they are implemented on the site. The reputation of the online retailers is important and so is the way that you download their shopping apps. Make sure you make payments with recognized and trusted online payment methods such as bank cards, limited payment cards or virtual wallets. Finally, make sure that you pick strong, unique passwords or even better, pass phrases that are difficult to crack.