Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

Tips to Protect Yourself While Shopping Online

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Aug 29, 2017 2:00 AM

The convenience of internet shopping has made it the preferred shopping method for consumers. Online retailers allow customers to access stores from anywhere, negating the need to hop from one physical location to another. Internet merchants also offer attractive discounts, which is another benefit of online shopping. However, while enjoying all these benefits, some shoppers forget about the risks associated with online transactions.

Buying goods from an online merchant means you have to provide personal information, which can be intercepted by cyber criminals. There is also the danger of buying fake products. As online shopping grows in demand, cyber crime becomes an even bigger threat as criminals discover more innovative ways to trick customers. To avoid losing vital data or getting fraudulent charges on your cards, here are protective measures to implement.

Invest in a Malware Program

As obvious as it may seem, not every shopper uses devices with updated virus protection. Malware attacks are one of the most common ways to mine personal data. Good quality software will guarantee that your machine is safe from different types of viruses. Note that malware programs need updating because viruses advance over time. Set your software to update automatically so that it is able to detect new threats.

Use Reputable Vendors

Not every online merchant is worth buying from. Some shops are fronts for stealing personal information and gaining access to customer accounts. Other online stores stock fake goods for unsuspecting shoppers. Take the time to research a vendor before submitting your financial information.

If a business is required to have licensing, check its authenticity. Visit objective review sites to get opinions from previous customers. Look up consumer protection websites and see if an online store has complaints against it. Third-party payment processing services are safe options if you are not convinced about the reliability of a vendor.

Secure Your Device

Besides a malware program, a shopper should install sound security settings on a PC or on other devices used for shopping. Optimize the security settings to cater to your shopping experiences. Ensure that your web browser and operating system are up to date to avoid any vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

Don't ignore security patches. Make certain that you run diagnostics on the security system to repair any gaps that may leave room for hackers and other cyber criminals to gain access to your device. For mobile devices, make use of fingerprint lock, PINs, and passcodes for your screen to prevent unauthorized physical access.

Stick to Credit Cards

Abstain from using your debit card when shopping online because it increases the risk of losing money. Debit cards are linked to your account directly, meaning it is easier for fraudsters to access  your money.

Credit cards have limits that make them a lower liability alternative when purchasing items online. You can request a lower limit for the card used for online transactions to mitigate risks further. It is also possible to dispute fraudulent charges on your credit card. It's harder to dispute unauthorized charges on a debit card.

Double Check Server Security

Before you enter personal information on a vendor's website, be confident that it's a secure server. One indication of a secure server is the "https" that precedes a site's domain name. A store that only has "http" is not safe for you to use. Browsers also have a server lock symbol in the form of a padlock to show the website utilizes a secure platform.

Stay away from an online shop when your browser warns you that the security certificate for that website has expired. Be cautious about using public networks to shop because they are not secure.

Stronger Passwords

It can't be said enough; strong passwords are key when conducting online transactions. One vulnerability that hackers exploit is the predictability of passwords. Most people pick passwords they can remember easily, so they end up with similar ones for multiple sites. Spend time developing complex passwords that will make it arduous for hackers to crack them.

Suspiciously good deals are other lures to watch out for when shopping online. Some merchants offer extremely low discounts to dupe buyers into paying for non-genuine products or providing personal data so they can mine it.

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