Keep Your Identity Safe When Shopping Online

How Do You Make Sure Your Info is Safe When Banking or Shopping Online?

Woman shopping on laptop
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How Do You Make Sure Your Info is Safe When Banking or Shopping Online?

Here are some ideas and tips on making sure that you keep your info safe when shopping or banking online:

  • Be suspicious of offers you receive through an email, tweet or any other form of social media. If they sound too good to be true, they are.
  • Only do business with the companies and people that you like, know and trust. It is best to buy big-ticket items, such as refrigerators or televisions, at a brick-and-mortar location.
  • Do not use your debit card online. If it becomes compromised, the money can be removed from your account immediately. A credit card is more secure and has less liability.
  • Do not click on email links, even if it is from someone you know. Instead, use a favorites menu, bookmark list or manually type the address into the browser.
  • Pay attention to credit card and bank statements. Check online statements about every two weeks, and refute any charges within a couple of billing cycles.
  • Be aware of typosquating and cybersquatting. Pay attention to the spelling of websites and addresses that seem trustworthy. These may be close imitations of the actual website.
  • Keep your computer secure. Update your critical operating system patches for security, virus definitions, and antivirus software. Do not use a public Internet connection when you shop online.
  • Beware of eBay scammers. Do not respond to any email offers from eBay, either. Always review the history of an eBay seller; all good sellers will have awesome feedback.
  • Only use secure sites when possible. These are identifiable by the “https” in the address bar.
  • Avoid paying anything by an online check or sending a check in the mail.

Criminals are using several approaches to snare the victims. They might go through your trash, steal your mail, call you on the phone and use other tricks to take advantage of their victims.

If they require additional information, they will also try to find a way to get into your computer.

The scary truth is that if you are reading this, the odds of you getting a virus on your computer is high. Cyber criminals are always adapting to our electronics by exchanging information with other hackers and taking advantage of any possible weaknesses. Viruses are inevitable, and you can never let your guard down.

What are the Differences Between HTTP and HTTPS?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP, is recognizable by most anyone who has used the Internet. You may also see Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure or HTTPS. So, what is the difference?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is the result of combining Hypertext Transfer Protocol with added security from Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS).

Confused? In simple English, when you see HTTP, it means that you are connected to the Internet, and HTTPS means that this connection is secure. Until just recently, the only sites that used the HTTPS were those that ask for credit card information or those that handle monetary transactions. Social networking sites have recently started using HTTPS to ensure a secure connection, but it’s not automatic.

Is it Safe to Use Public Hotspots or Free Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is truly everywhere. If you travel, for instance, you have many options for connecting to the Internet, whether it is at a hotel, coffee shop, fast food restaurant, or airport. There are a number of security issues associated with accessing the Internet through a wireless connection. Keep in mind, that Wi-Fi was not designed to be secure. Instead, it is for convenience.

Anyone who uses these connections risk exposing their data. There are many ways to see who is connected to the Wi-Fi, and quite easy to gain access to their info. Criminal hackers are sophisticated, and this puts anyone connected to these connections at risk.

As a rule, if you are connected to someone’s network, even if it is secure, your data is at risk. To protect yourself when using a wireless connection:

  • Do not store critical data on a device that is used outside of a secure network. I have both a laptop and an iPhone, but if they are hacked, there is nothing on either that would compromise my identity.
  • Be cautious when using a public Wi-Fi connection. Do not do any banking, shopping or any transaction that may share sensitive info.
  • Be smart about the data you are sending on any public connection. You likely do not need to make any critical transaction when sipping on a macchiato.
  • Turn off all Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections on your mobile phone or laptop when you are not using them. If not off, the devices will still send wireless signals.
  • Keep all operating systems and antivirus software up to date. Make sure these things update automatically, and that you have all OS security patches you require.

Beware of All Shopping Scams

So what should you do when shopping to avoid being scammed? It is easier than you think to avoid being turned into a victim. Here are some tips:

  • First, back up your data…always. If you DO become a victim of a cyber crime when online shopping, such as being infected with malware, a backup company, such as Carbonite, will allow you to recover everything.
  • Inspect each and every purchase on your credit card statement. If you do not recognize them, contact your credit card company.
  • Even if you are an online seller, you can also be a victim of scams. A common scam that affects sellers is that a buyer will overpay with a fake check. They pretend that it is an innocent mistake, and then ask the seller to wire them the difference. However, the check is not cashable.
  • Try only to buy from known sellers. If you must go with a lesser-known seller, first research the company on Google for any bad review. Remember, however, that some raving reviews could have been set up by scammers, but if there are bad reviews, this is quite telling.
  • If you are buying from a person, such as a Craigslist seller, instead of a business, try to meet in a public location. Inform the seller that you would prefer to meet before you pay, just to take the time to see the item.
  • Do not click any link in an email that seems to have come from UPS, a retailer, the government or similar. Even if you just purchased an item from Amazon, for instance, it is possible the email you receive from “Amazon” is actually from a scammer. Clicking on the link may lead you to a website where you will get a virus or lead you to a place that lures you into entering information such as a SSN, credit card number or other personal information.

Protecting Yourself When Doing Some Online Shopping

Though you may have read this before, it probably bears repeating. Online shopping is convenient and fun. You can find a lot of bargains and locate items that are hard to find. There is some risk with online shopping, however, but as long as you are careful, it can be a safe, enjoyable and easy:

  1. Do not click on any link from a spam email to make a purchase. Do not click on any link from a person you do not know, either.
  2. Do not shop at any website that you are not comfortable with. If you feel like there is something weird about a site, you are likely right.
  3. Ensure that the site is secure before buying. Look for a security seal from a trusted third party.
  4. Check the web address to ensure that you are on the right site. When the site opens, look at it to make sure that it’s legitimate. Read the address carefully.
  5. Use a credit card for all payments, not a debit card. The credit card is safer as it provides higher protection against fraud.
  6. Do not use a public computer when shopping online. This will allow strangers to see your browsing history and possibly your login information. Only shop from a secure home computer.
  7. Make sure that any site you shop on uses scrambling or encryption when transmitting information online. You can tell by seeking out a lock symbol on the page and making sure the web address begins with HTTPS instead of HTTP.
  8. Use a strong password when making accounts to shop online. Choose a password that is difficult to figure out. They should be a minimum of ten characters, and they should be a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
  9. Inspect any purchase as soon as it is received. Make sure the product is correct and free of damage. If you must exchange or return the item, do it quickly, so you do not get restricted by company return policies.
  10. Only use a secure connection when placing an order. If using an unsecured network, the information is easily accessed by hackers as there is no protection to stop them.
  11. Keep a paper trail – Keep a copy of the order number and the receipt. Take note of which credit card you used for the purchase. When you receive the credit card statement, review it to ensure that the charge is correct and that there are no unauthorized fess or charges.
  12. You should also make sure that your computer has an up-to-date security software, which will ensure you are safe from spyware, viruses, and other threats.