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5 Steps for Safer Online Shopping

Introduction

Digitization swept the world for the past several decades, as people flocked online to connect with each other and make life more convenient. Shopping was no exception. Who hasn’t tracked down a vintage jacket or found a new winter wardrobe online? Retail stores adapted to the influx of online customers just like restaurants created special delivery menus and other businesses installed AI to take questions on their landing page. Customers were online, so that’s where businesses went.

Since COVID-19, and now with rising concerns over monkeypox, fewer people than ever feel comfortable sifting through thrift racks or trying on clothes at the store. The more transactions you make over the Internet, the greater your chances become of cybercriminals gaining unauthorized access to your data, information or even financial records.

Think before you buy anything over the Internet! Use these 5 tips to stay safe while shopping online these days.

#1 Secure Sites ONLY

The most straightforward way for hackers to steal your information is to create unsecured websites that capture your information directly from you.

Here’s a hint: Look at the address bar where you type in website name. At the far left, it should start with HTTPS:// not HTTP. The S stands for Secure! There will also be some kind of lock icon next to the URL indicating that communications on that site are safe. This signifies that the website creator has undergone the proper certifications and authentications to guarantee encryption and security. Sites that begin with HTTP, without the S, are more subject to man-in-the-middle attacks.

#2 Sensible Requests

Sometimes cybercriminals play on emotions to get you to make hasty decisions to their benefit. While they may try to invoke fear or desperation in a typical phishing message, an online shopping scam will more likely play on your intrigue, for example, by offering an unbeatable sale or service package.

Think carefully about what you’re being asked to enter into checkout. At most, you should verify your shipping and billing addresses, as well as payment information. There’s no need for the grocery delivery guy to ask for your birthday, or the make and model of your first car.

#3 Continuous Monitoring

There are myriad ways scammers could get your credit card information. Slowing down to assess their requests, check the website’s veracity, and affirm that it matches the expected domain name and branding will only get you so far. Criminals can still layer invisible web pages over legitimate sites to capture login credentials, or use social engineering to phish for information. There are any number of ways that they may trip you up.

To verify that you haven’t been compromised in any way, you should check all of your statements on at least a weekly basis to ensure that no suspicious activity has occurred on your accounts. Try to dispute charges before they surpass Pending status; you don’t want to look back at the end of the month and find $5,000 of false purchases billed to an overdrafted checking account.

Conclusion

A mix of security awareness and constant vigilance can help protect you as you go about all of your online shopping! Scammers set up fake websites that mirror trusted domains, with minor shifts like a missing letter in the URL or replacing i with L, in the hopes that you won’t notice the slight error. They’re always on the hunt for new ways to trip you up, to steal or finesse away PII and other private information.

A smarter and more comprehensive security toolkit can assist your daily efforts to avoid known threats. From Dark Web Monitoring to automated cyber-response plans, the advanced technology available today can track and mitigate potential threats before they become a serious headache. Use these tips in conjunction with better tools to protect your online security as you’re filling your house with items shipped to you from the furthest reaches of the Internet.

Follow our blog for more tips on staying safe online!

References

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