Shop Safe and Secure Online With These 5 Tips

It’s the time for post-winter sales!  So you are no doubt cashing in on those sweet bargains online this month. However, secure online shopping is of the utmost concern these days. What are the best ways to shop safe online? Keep reading for some handy tips that will make you feel a lot more secure out on the World Wide Web.

Shop Safe By Following These Guidelines

Get the great deals, but shop safe with a few guidelines.

Stick With Trusted Websites

All major retailers have online stores in 2016. It’s just a fact of life. They need to keep up with their competitors. To shop safe online, it’s best to stick with those major retailers, as well as reputable online outlets that don’t have brick and mortar stores, like Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba etc. If you start searching the web for a product and you come upon a site that looks similar to a known site or the spelling of the site is slightly off, don’t make the transaction. It’s easy for attackers to create malicious websites. You don’t want to be tricked into handing over your information just to score a bargain. Beware!

Use HTTPS Protocol

These days, reputable online companies use SSL (secure sockets layer) to encrypt customer transactions. If the website URL doesn’t start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://) then please, PLEASE move on to a site that does. When you make a purchase via a secure website that uses SSL you will see a cute icon of a locked padlock right next to the URL in the address bar or in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser. No SSL or padlock then this isn’t the site you want to be doing business with. Period.

Avoid Sketchy E-mails

You may receive email messages that appear to be legitimate from your favorite online retailer. Watch out! It’s most likely a ruse if the email address is spelled incorrectly or the e-mail domain (.com, .net, etc.) doesn’t match that of reputable site you are familiar with. In this case it is best to type in the URL you ARE familiar with and see if the advertisement that’s being pawned appears on the actual site. Shop for the discounts on the trusted again and don’t click on any hyperlinks in the e-mail. Always better to be safe than sorry! Shop safe!

Use a Credit Card

There are already laws in place that will limit your liability when a fraudulent credit card purchase is made.  This is often not the case for debit card purchase.  Since the debit card uses money directly from your bank account, unauthorized purchases you may end up with insufficient funds. You can minimize potential damage by using a single, low-limit credit card to making all of your online purchases. It’s also a good idea to associate quick pay methods like PayPal, Google Wallet, or Apple Pay with your credit card. Also, be sure to consult your credit card statements regularly and compare transactions to your bank statement. You can go one step further and set e-mail notifications if a purchase goes over a certain amount.

Protect Your Computer

When shopping online be prepared from the start.  Online attackers love to target vulnerable systems. To protect yourself make sure your data can’t be easily compromised. Ways to do that include using anti-virus software to prevent viruses or other malicious code from taking over your computer, making sure your operating system is up to date for security updates and software patches, using strong login passwords to the sites you shop on, and making sure the system you use to online shop isn’t so outdated it’s at risk. Also, never use a public computer or public Wi-Fi to online shop (ie. computer café or library). You don’t know if those systems are secure AND you don’t know if someone could be snooping the Wi-Fi. Yes, you can use a VPN to shop outside your home but don’t chance it when you have a more trusted system available. Saving a few bucks is not worth your security. The same tips apply to phones and tablets.

If you follow these common sense guidelines, it should be a piece of cake to shop safe online. Now go take advantage of those deals!

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