15 Tips for Secure Online Shopping

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The only checklist you to safe online shopping

A sea change has been noticed in the shopping trends ever since the retailers decided to open ‘e-stores’ on the Internet. The ‘e-shopping bug’ seems to have bitten the entire population on the web these days. They find ‘online shopping’ to be an attractive option that saves them trips to the stores and helps them escape the crowd and the never-ending queues at the shopping malls.

Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Right from a needle to a chandelier, the arena of e-shopping websites has expanded profoundly. Today, for an e-shopper, there are countless options in clothing and accessories, furniture, beauty products, grocery items and even rare edition books that are hard to find in your neighborhood bookstores, are just a click away on the Internet for them to grab. The availability of such immense variety is matched with other amazing benefits like home delivery, jaw-dropping discounts, deals etc.

Just like another side of a coin, some serious disadvantages like cyber attacks and hacking, complement the benefits of ‘online shopping’. Cyber attack happens to be one of the most hazardous disadvantages of e-shopping which may result in heavy financial loss, identity thefts or other similar circumstances.

Every year, cyber thieves successfully exploit e-shoppers’ frenzy by carrying out cyber attacks and identity thefts. However, with just few precautions, a smart shopper can easily dodge the malicious intentions of these cyber thugs. Here is a detailed compilation of few security tips for safe online shopping, which every e-shopper should follow before spending a single dime on the Internet:

1. Shop only with trusted vendors

It is always advisable to limit your shopping spree to established and trusted vendors only as it limits your exposure. And to avoid getting redirected to fake sites, it is always better to bookmark the most trusted online shopping site to secure your next online shopping trip.

2. Check out site’s customer satisfying rates and complaints against it

A wise e-shopper shall always refer websites to find out what other people have to say about the shopping site. Reviewing other customers’ comments and finding out the seller’s rating can help shoppers gauge the vendor’s authenticity. Poor ratings and bad reviews are a sure shot signs of a fake website with a potential of carrying out a full-fledged cyber attack.

3. Pay attention to the signs indicating to an illegitimate website

On a shopping website, if you happen to notice poor website design, grammatically incorrect content, absurd web-address or countless pop-ups, then there is a high probability of that website being illegitimate. On noticing any of these or similar signs, you need to make sure you have not entered any of your personal or financial information and then close all the browser windows.

4. Always look for an encrypted check-out page

One of the most important tips that every e-shopper must remember, is to ensure encryption on the checkout page while shopping on the Internet. Safe shopping sites tend to rely on the technology offered by an SSL certificate. It helps protect the information that travels from the computer to the stores’ server. Such secure encryption is indicated by a yellow, closed padlock symbol and https address bar, instead of the conventional http URL. Also, in case of web-page secured with an Extended Validated (EV) SSL certificate, visitors are assured about the strongest mode of encryption being offered on that page, by a green URL.

5. Strong passwords

Using a strong password is one of the most under-rated security measures. Often, this critically important security step gets least attention paid by the site users. Strong passwords can act as a best defense; therefore it’s very important to create them properly to make it impossible for any hacker to guess it.

6. Use credit cards instead of debit cards

Credit cards are always a safer choice while making any payment on the Internet. Because in case of any security breach followed by data compromise, a credit card incurs less damage to its user as compared to a debit card. Following attributes of a credit card make it a safer option to choose over the debit card:

    • A spending limit can be set for a credit card, which is not possible in case of debit cards that are directly linked to your bank account.
    • Money spent on the Internet directly from your account using a debit card is difficult to recover compared to credit card.

Users can also consider using a credit card with low credit limit. Some banks also offer unique credit cards that are specially designed for online shoppers, like ‘one-time use’ or ‘virtual credit cards’, which can be used once on the website of a specific e-vendor.

7. Optimize computer’s settings’

Online shoppers need to ensure optimized security settings of their PCs in addition to updating anti-virus and anti-spyware protection. There are a lot of malware species that are designed to exploit even a single security vulnerability of your PC’s operating systems and the web browsers. To protect yourself from a cyber attack while shopping online, you need to:

    • Install all the free updates and security patches upon their release. Make sure to enable your settings to install the updates.
    • Run ‘System Mechanic’s Security Optimizer. It automatically tracks down and fixes any vulnerability and loop-hole in the operating system and web-browser.

8. Updated anti-malware program

It is critically very important for online shoppers to install anti-malware software and secure their computers against malicious attacks. Most programs come with the feature of ‘auto update’ that helps the software stay updated automatically. Looking at the invariable ability of viruses to mutate, it is wise to rely on anti-malware software designed specifically to combat such attacks.

9. Never submit unnecessary personal details

Numerous e-shoppers get talked into submitting their personal identity details by hackers posing as a legitimate vendor on the Internet. Website users need to be extra-vigilant while submitting any of their sensitive personal information as it is highly unlikely for any vendor to ask for the users’ social security number or date of birth just to order a product online. While giving out your birth-date may seem like a harmless thing to do, but the users should remember their birth-date is one of the few elements that are needed by scammers to carry out identity-theft.

10. Keep a paper trail of all transactions

It is advisable for online shoppers to keep a record of all their online transactions carried out on the shopping sites by printing and saving them. They should also consider printing the online receipts, sales’ terms and conditions, any e-mail conversation with the seller. These print-outs serve as a perfect set of evidences about your transactions, shall anything go wrong after the purchase.

11. Check bank statements regularly

Your online shopping regime should always include a step of verifying your bank account statements and transactions, especially in during the holiday season. If the transactions don’t match your online purchases, you need to immediately contact your bank authorities.

12. Avoid the deals that are too good to be true

In most cases, the deal really is too good to be true. The old saying ‘Buyers Beware’ greatly applies to all the e-shoppers falling for the misleading deals being offered on the sites. Shoppers are required here to do a meticulous research on the vendors offering them. Cyber thieves tend to post such lucrative offers to lure shoppers into their traps.

13. Use coupons carefully

Random coupons issued by unknown websites should be avoided by all the e-shoppers. Hackers have been found crafting a hyperlink that looks genuine but is actually crafted skillfully to acquire the shoppers’ credit card information. It is always safer to visit the vendor’s site directly to avail a coupon instead of using one with unidentified source of origin.

14. Avoid transactions on public Wi-Fi

It is better to avoid taking the risk of shopping online using a public Wi-Fi as the data-compromise frequency here is very high. Hackers are always looking for easy targets like shoppers making online transactions using a public wireless network.

15. Use vendors’ apps for shopping on smart-phones

The Majority of the shopping sites today have come up with their mobile apps. These applications have been found to be more secure and in control of the vendors when compared to their websites accessed via mobile browsers.