Online shopping has become a very lucrative enterprise in the last few years. Because of this, there are a lot of online stores and suppliers out there where you can find great deals on almost anything. There are also a lot of unsafe websites and people out there who are looking to steal personal information for personal gain. By keeping these ten tips in mind, it is easy to maintain your digital identity and have safe online shopping.
1. One of the easiest things to do would be to only shop on familiar and popular sites. When shopping, you should stay with national and internationally known online retailers, and therefore minimise the chances of a problem with identity theft. That is not to say that small businesses should not have online shopping. Unfortunately these smaller sites are often more prone to being attacked by malicious people looking to gain access to customer information so you should usually avoid these unless you have to use them – but, where possible, try to rely on personal experience of friends and family.
2. In addition to fraud, there may be concerns with having personal information sold or used by someone else besides the online retailer. Less than honest websites will sell any personal data that they receive. If there is a website that is not widely recognized and you are not familiar with the retailer, check online reviews to see if other people have had complaints or difficulty in dealing with the retailer.
3. Being scammed online is something that can happen to anyone. When online, it is wise to avoid entering too much personal information. If the website is asking for a lot of information that does not seem relevant to the purchase or the site is making extreme promises as to things that can be won, it is best to steer clear and go to a different site. If things appear too good to be true, they probably are.
4. Whenever you shop online and enter personal information such as credit card numbers, you need to make sure that the website itself is secure. Reputable commerce sites will have their site set up with SSL (secure socket layer). This basically means that the site itself is safe from fraud and the consumer can shop in confidence. To determine if a site is safe, there should be a lock icon displayed in the web browser address bar or possibly on the bottom of the screen. The address of the site should also be https instead of http. This denotes a secure site.
5. Most websites will require a password and username to be set up before anything can be purchased. This makes it easy when going back to this site as shipping and billing information will be stored. To prevent from having this user account hacked, creating a strong password is important. This should be a combination of numbers as well as lower case and upper case letters. Be careful of not bothering about a strong password as ‘it’s not a bank site’… your information is valuable and vulnerable, no matter where you use it, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re buying your groceries or signing up for internet banking – think Safety!
6. Since there are so many sites that require a password, it is difficult to remember all of the passwords. Having the same password for every site is not safe, even though this is something that many people will do. In the event that someone had access to this password, they would be able to get into every site that has your personal information such as bank and credit card accounts. There are a number of different computer programs that are designed to securely store all of this personal information without worry. Programs such as Keep Safe work quite well. It allows you to securely store all of your passwords and then only have to remember one master password to get into the program.
7. When shopping online, you should always avoid doing so at internet cafes. These places may have people there who are looking to steal any bit of information that they can. You never know if someone is looking over your shoulder to get your credit card number.
8. The majority of shopping online should be done safely at home. If you have a wireless network, it must be secure and password protected. With an open network, there is the possibility that anyone can get into your system and possibly recover personal information.
9. Make sure a home computer has up to date virus protection. Simply having a virus protection program on the computer is not sufficient. It needs to be up to date with the most recent information as there are always new viruses and programs out there that attack computers and steal private information.
10. Finally, it is good to always check bank statements after making online purchases. If there are ever any strange or unknown purchases, it is best to check with the bank right away. The sooner something is caught, the better chance you would have to restore your identity and get the problem resolved.
So, the bottom line is that there is a lot of fraud online, and you should be careful whenever making purchases on the internet. That doesn’t mean that you should completely avoid online retailers. With some common sense and a few simple steps, it is easy to safely make purchases on the internet.
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