Going online is fast becoming the shopping method of choice for many busy mums.
And, sharing personal information online is inescapable. The important thing is knowing how to protect yourself.
We hear about cases of identity theft all the time and we never think it will happen to us—until it does.
Here are ten simple tricks to make sure you safeguard your identity and have a worry-free online shopping experience!
Trust your instincts
Often, your gut tells you if a shop doesn’t seem legit. Don’t be tricked by good deals.
Your first impression of a site’s appearance should already give you a clue that it’s not exactly reliable: a weird address and strange pop-ups are prime examples.
If you have a bad feeling about the site or if it’s asking too much personal information, get out before you check out.
Take extra care if you’re on a mobile device
Nowadays, smartphones are pretty much our go-to computers—more people are on their phones than on desktops or laptops.
But smartphones aren’t always equipped with the same level of anti-virus protection as your computer; this makes it easier for cyber-criminals to use malware to steal your information.
Shortened URLs, which are more phone-friendly, could also be used to lure you into risky sites that aren’t secure.
There’s also a high risk of your phone being stolen so make sure it’s password protected at all times.
Update your browser
This may seem simple enough but it works wonders. With each new version, your browser gets a boost in security features.
Older browsers have been studied by hackers thoroughly and they have found holes and faults through which they can easily steal information.
Updating your operating system and anti-virus can also help keep identity thieves away.
Don’t use public Wi-Fi when shopping
Remember: every single time you enter personal information via a public network, you are exposing yourself to the possibility of identity theft.
Most Wi-Fi hotspots don’t encrypt the data you share; this means that anyone sharing the same public network can just steal your identity.
Wait until you get home if you need to send valuable information.
Change your passwords regularly
Yes, this may be a hassle but changing your password regularly helps keep your information and bank account safe.
For many of us, it’s a struggle to remember different passwords but doing this will help you greatly.
Change your password every three to six months and avoid using the same password for all your accounts.
Look for HTTPS rather than HTTP
For those of us who aren’t tech-savvy, it may be hard to keep track of all the online acronyms.
But one thing you need to remember is to look for site URLs preceded by HTTPS instead of HTTP to make sure the information you send is secure—the “S” in HTTPS stands for “secure”.
If you find yourself purchasing anything from a site with an HTTP url, be careful what information you share.
Other ways to know if a site is secure is looking for a closed lock at the bottom of the screen.
Don’t believe links in e-mails
This may be the oldest trick in the book but a lot still fall for it.
Many phishing scams are disguised as emails from legitimate sites such as banks, and online stores. These e-mails often lead to sites that gather information to steal your identity.
If you get a suspicious e-mail, don’t follow the links—even if it’s from an online shop or site you’ve visited before.
Remember: real sites won’t ask for important information through e-mail.
Make sure to note if they specifically state that your personal data is encrypted, secure, and can’t be sold to any third parties.
Frequently check your credit card statement
The smartest way to shop online is using a credit card.
You should never use a debit card, check, or cash because there’s no way to get your money back if anything goes wrong.
Using a credit card is safer because you can get reimbursed for fraudulent charges.
However, credit card companies can’t track purchases you didn’t make or receive, so you have to keep a close watch on your statements.
If you sense something is off with your billing, contact your credit card company immediately.
Use a temporary credit card number
Some banks may offer the option of requesting a temporary virtual credit card number which you can use to shop without having to expose your real account number.
You will only need to ask your bank to set the amount and time frame needed for a single purchase for a temporary virtual credit card number to be issued.
This is a hack-proof way to shop because the number will expire quickly and has a lower maximum spending limit.
These online safety techniques may seem like a hassle at first, but they will ensure you of a hassle-free shopping experience in the long run.
If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them with us!