8 Tips for Safer & More Secure Online Shopping
If you’re busy planning your holiday shopping this month, with days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday you're not the only one. Before you continue make sure to check out our tips on how to be safer when shopping online.
The last couple of months of every year are always a busy time for shoppers and businesses. November’s shopping celebration includes Singles’ Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other eCommerce-focused sales. In 2020, the pandemic accelerated the shift to online shopping by more than 40%, and this year, shoppers are predicted to spend $910 billion around the holiday season. Supply chain concerns cause many to go on gift-buying sprees earlier than usual, leading 46% to start purchasing before the end of November.
Is Online Shopping Safe?
When making your shopping list for the upcoming weeks, it’s essential to remember that online shopping presents a few risks other than overspending. November includes some of the days with the highest risk of falling victim to e-commerce scams. These scams include data breaches, counterfeit scammers selling fake goods, and fake phishing pages designed to get people’s personal and financial details for further monetary and identity theft.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, online shopping fraud reports have more than doubled last year and continue to rise in 2021. The pandemic again contributes to these numbers, as new audiences enter the online shopping arena with less experience and knowledge of identifying threats, alongside new businesses with limited cybersecurity measures that now offer their services online.
For those of you who keep hearing about the dangers of online shopping, here are a few pieces of advice to follow.
Safe shopping: Online Shopping Tips
There’s no reason to limit your online experiences, and we encourage you to continue your holiday shopping as planned while paying extra attention to specific elements. Here’s how to tell if a website is safe.
- <hl>Buy from websites you know and trust:<hl> Scammers like to set up fake websites that often resemble familiar brands. These websites are likely to appear after the first few pages of your online search, but not always. By visiting a page you know, and at which you have shopped before, you are less likely to buy fake goods or give your payment details to the wrong people.
- <hl>Type in the URL:<hl> If you received a tempting offer via email or text, search for the brand’s website and make sure the offer is actually there. There’s no reason to click unfamiliar links that may lead you to scams or be a part of a phishing scam. Pay close attention to URL spelling errors in the link sent to you, and remember that serious brands are far less likely to operate websites with an ending other than .com.
- <hl>Seek the lock:<hl> The padlock icon you see on every major website isn’t a decoration. It represents the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption protecting shopping websites. If you don’t see this icon and the URL doesn’t begin with HTTPS—you should think twice before giving away your payment details.
- <hl>Use strong passwords:<hl> It’s 2021, and 24% of Americans still use passwords like “1234” and “password.” Nearly 70% use the same password for multiple accounts, risking a significant loss if one of them is revealed. Sure, remembering all those crazy combinations may be challenging, but it also makes it challenging for hackers to access your bank account. Whenever possible, choose two-step authentication and pay using an online payment system like PayPal, which encrypts your payment information.
- <hl>Read reviews: <hl> Before making a purchase, read a few reviews and see if they seem legit. Can scammers fake reviews? Sure, but it’s still more of an effort. Reviews are a part of the overall trustworthy shopping experience, so consider them another step in your evidence-gathering process.
- <hl>Too good to be true:<hl> Brilliant deals are always exciting, but double-check everything on the website if something sounds unreasonable. Don’t be tempted to save money if it might cost you a lot more.
- <hl>Only provide necessary details:<hl> If the website asks for strange information that doesn’t feel relevant, don’t give it away and stay away. This may be scammers’ attempt to commit identity theft disguised as a legitimate shopping experience. Generally speaking, you should apply this approach to any website you visit and refrain from sharing information without getting reasonable value in return.
Done Shopping? Don’t Forget to Clean Your Footprint
<hl>Our eight and final tip can be used post-shopping and whenever you believe too many online services have access to your data<hl> (which is probably the case with the average footprint being 350 companies). Mine allows you to own your personal information without limiting your online experiences. A quick and friendly process will reveal every shopping service that has collected your data in the past, after which you can take back your data from any service that you don’t use or doesn’t feel right.
Once you’re done buying gifts for loved ones, give yourself the greatest gift of all and minimize your digital footprint and online exposure.