10 Tips for a Safe Online Shopping Experience
There is hardly anyone who is not familiar with online shopping. Amazing offers, best deals, lots of options and choices, easy shipping – all within the comfort of your home. The COVID pandemic has also accelerated the growth of online shopping as customers prefer the safety of non-contact shopping.
The other side of the coin is the increasing rate of cybercrimes and online theft. The huge number of sites that offer online purchases makes it challenging to spot malicious sites. So how do you protect yourself from online shopping scams and threats? In this article, experts from our cybersecurity team in Perth give a few tips for a safe online experience.
Shop from a fully secured device
Your device is your gateway to the online world. If it is not secured properly, cybercriminals can easily access all your personal information. Purchase an antivirus software that gives you a comprehensive cover from maximum types of threats. Always ensure that your antivirus software is up to date. Publishers send out regular software patches to fix any vulnerabilities and new threats.
Check the authenticity of the site
Best deals and offers can be very tempting. But it can be a case of All that glitters is not gold. Be extra careful about too good to be true offers – these may be fraudulent sites. Shop only from reputed and genuine sites. Read their term and conditions, replacement options, warranty claims etc. Also go through their shipping terms.
Check if the site is secured
Google always helps its users to know if a site is secured or not. A secured site will have https instead of http. Also, check for the closed padlock symbol at the left corner before the URL. This helps you to identify if a site is secured or not easily.
Never give away too much information
It is normal for the merchant to ask for your name, address, card number and phone numbers. But they don’t need to know your card PIN, identification card number and other personal information. Do not respond to such questions because these can be a tracking method. It is best to avoid sites that ask for such information. Never give any additional information than what is necessary.
Use credit cards
Credit cards are always safe while making an online purchase since there is a credit limit. Moreover, your debit card gives direct access to your accounts and savings. A low budget credit card exclusively dedicated for online shopping is a good idea. Check statements and notifications regularly and notify the card issuer immediately if you notice unauthorised transactions.
Use strong passwords
strong password makes it difficult for cybercriminals to intrude into your accounts easily. A combination of alphabets, numbers and special characters are often harder to decrypt. Never use your name or date of birth as passwords. Always use different passwords for different accounts. Use a password manager, to easily manage and avoid forgetting your passwords.
Never use a public network for online shopping
You never know who handles a public network. Since it is not secured and anyone can access it, public networks are hotspots for cybercriminals. Hackers can easily access your device and the information stored on it. Avoid online shopping on a public WiFi connection. Wait till you can login to your private network or use a VPN.
Use a dedicated email address
You can have an email address completely dedicated for online shopping. This way, if you receive any notification on other email addresses, you can instantly know it’s a spam or suspicious one.
If you can spare a computer or mobile, it is a good practice to use a device exclusively for shopping and online banking transactions. This way, you can avoid risks caused by any spyware downloaded onto your device while browsing other sites.
Login directly to sites or mobile apps
Most of the reputed brands and dealers have their own sites and mobile apps. Directly logging into their sites and apps can protect you from scam emails and fake links. Avoid accessing online shopping sites by clicking on links in emails. If it’s a scam, it may download malicious software on your device. It can also lead you to a fraudulent look-alike of the original sites. You will be practically giving away your details and sensitive information when you log on to such sites.
Check the reviews for the seller
VPN – Virtual Private Network – is an encrypted connection across a public network that provides online anonymity.
Software patches – A quick set of changes designed to add new features, update or resolve functionalities and improve security.
Https – Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is the secure version of HTTP, used for secure and encrypted communication on the Internet.