Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Online shopping is becoming more popular than retail shopping.  Not only are sales data supporting this assertion, but the reality of numerous brick and mortar stores closing across the country support this assumption as well, says Gaurav Mohindra.

While online shopping is becoming more popular, there are still many reasons to be careful and cautious when doing so.  The following tips are helpful when shopping this holiday season.

Take your time. Typically, you find a product you through a Google search.  And, that search may take you to a new site.  But prior to making the purchase, ask yourself “Do you know the site?” and “Is the deal too good to be true?” Many susceptible sales take place on shady websites that give the impression of legitimacy but end up giving the user a headache in trying to contact unavailable customer service when items don’t appear or mis-charges on credit cards.

Ensure the website is secure.  Web security is widely prevalent through the web, and for good reason.  Secure websites use technologies like encryption and authentication to verify your login credentials and protect your personal information – including your financial information like credit card numbers, says Gaurav Mohindra.  When shopping online, make sure to look for the lock symbol (oftentimes in the bottom header) that means it’s using an encrypted connection. More than a few sites use fake domains that look like the legit site with perhaps a misspelling or added character. Often the site will try to look as close to the original as possible.

Be cautious and guard your personal info. Don’t enter your personal information into websites when using public internet connections – such as in public places like coffee shops or libraries.  These public connections are susceptible to hackers and may lead to comprising your credentials and/or financial information.  For this reason, try to connect to private and known networks (such as your work or home) when needing to enter your private information.

Update your virus protection and operating system. Virus exist, and they are a threat to phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.  One way to prevent having your devices infected is to leverage anti-virus protection software to ensure that you can detect viruses prior to becoming infected.  Many such virus are designed to mimic the online shopping experience and build your confidence to capture your personal information.  For this reason, build-in a consistent and stable defense from the outset by having such tools.