Shopping online, even a few short years ago, was an activity that some people felt comfortable doing, but most of us rarely did. Now, in 2022, it makes up the bulk of all our financial transactions.
The period of time that has seen this cultural shift is, on the face of it, reasonably short, and that means we’ve made a massive leap into the unknown. Fortunately, our technological age has made that leap more achievable.
However, for all its advantages, shopping online still has some drawbacks. When it comes to scams and types of fraud, it’s an industry that is constantly having to evolve in order to restrict the size and nature of attacks made by nefarious individuals and groups.
It’s impossible to prevent all of the criminal behavior that occurs within the online shopping sphere, but there are ways that we, on an individual level, can fight back. Here are some valuable tips to help keep you safe as you shop online.
Do Your Research
Whenever you are visiting an online store, you need to be wary. This even means when you go to a well-known, established website, not least often scammers will set up sites that look very similar to how these look and count on you not noticing the difference.
If you find a new online site that looks like it’s excellent for your purchasing plans, then take the time to read up on reviews of the service. You can do this yourself or make use of comparison sites such as those that offer the top 10 best options in each specific field, such as, for instance, the best meal delivery services to use online.
When conducting your research, pay close attention to any issues relating to payments and delivery, these are two crucial points in the online shopping process, and if you see any negative comments that relate to them, you’d be better informed about whether you wish to take the potential risk of shopping with them.
Use Credit Cards
Try not to use debit cards for online shopping transactions as the processes available in relation to refunds you may request due to a scam are less speedy. Use a credit card, and that way, your transactions will be safer.
Additionally, if you use a payment service like Paypal, you are creating a wall between the scammers and your banking information. In other words, if someone hacks your payment, they’ll only manage to get into that e-wallet (which is easier to block) and not your general bank account, where they can do severe damage.
Make Sure Your Computer or Device is Clean of Viruses and Malware
If you are shopping online and you are not running some form of virus protection on your computer or mobile devices, then you are asking for trouble. Make sure you have some semblance of anti-virus software running, and be sure that it’s not out of date and is actually switched on.
Make sure to run the relevant updates so that your computer is best prepared to tackle the latest forms of scams and the malware that are commonly used to run them.
Never Click On Unsolicited Links
No doubt you regularly get messages and emails that include a link to some sort of offer or promotion, and you should know by now that clicking on these is a surefire way to get scammed.
We’ve all got pretty used to ignoring or marking these as spam, but if you still occasionally fall for these because perhaps they appear to be sent from a legit source, get into the habit of simply deleting them the moment they arrive.
Improve Your Password Management
Do you use the same password for every account you have? Is that password ridiculously easy to guess (i.e., a year of your birth, the name of your first child?)? If so, get into the habit of making the process of getting hacked harder for the scammers.
Use different passwords and regularly update them. You can use a password management service to help you if you find it hard to remember your passwords. The key here is to make it as hard as possible for a scammer to break this relatively simple line of defence.
Don’t Use Public Networks of Wi-Fi Outside Your Work or Home
If you are out and about, try to avoid using public networks or wi-fi that aren’t your own, and be doubly vigilant if you plan on doing any shopping online in such circumstances. Public networks are not secured, and they are easy pickings for scammers.
Indeed, don’t use them when shopping online, and do not access your online banking either; doing so makes it infuriatingly easy for scammers and fraudsters to rob you of your savings, as well as possible identity theft.
Logout and Only Use One Device to Shop Online
A fundamental way to stay safe is to establish some safe practices when shopping online. For instance, if you are shopping at an online store and you are signed in, remember to sign out once you have completed your purchase.
Also, don’t save the login and password info, and try to keep these transactions down to one device or computer and, of course, make sure that whichever device or desktop you use it’s fully protected.
Shopping online has revolutionized the way we conduct our transactions, and we can, far too often, get lazy. Sometimes we get swept up in the process and find ourselves clicking once or twice before completing a purchase, and while that’s great in terms of getting you close to your desired purchase, it’s also a recipe for disaster if you don’t remember to stay as safe as possible when online shopping.