Shopping online is more convenient, quick, and easy than shopping in person, and it is typically more economical. Of course, such convenience comes at a cost, and that cost, like so many other aspects of the internet, is privacy and information security. By ordering a pair of shoes or a gift online, you may be unwittingly allowing hackers or digital criminals to steal your credit card information or other personal information: this is why shopping safely online is critical.
In 2020, consumers spent $861 billion online with US retailers, demonstrating the popularity and longevity of online buying. Even yet, if you don’t exercise excellent digital hygiene, you may find yourself in hot water. Hackers have become more daring and inventive than ever before in their attempts to steal personal information from you. Don’t fall victim to online shopping scams—read our best recommendations for remaining secure while shopping online.
Save your spending till you get home.
If you’re sipping a latte at your favorite coffee shop, it’s tempting to do some quick digital shopping on Amazon, but if you’re using public Wi-Fi, you risk compromising your data and financial information.
“Wait until your internet connection is safe the next time you shop online,” says Cara Fuller, a connectivity expert with All Home Connections. If you’re on the run and won’t be able to return home before making a purchase, she recommends using your mobile data plan instead of public Wi-Fi.
Shop on reputable websites.
It’ll happen sooner or later you’ll be shopping online for something and come upon a site that looks off. If you’ve ever come across a website that makes you nervous, trust your instincts. Consumers should look for a closed padlock icon and a site address that begins with HTTPS (the “S” stands for secure) like Attack on Titan Merch. Both signal that your connection to the site is secure, and that all data sent or received from the site is encrypted, making it inaccessible to third parties.
Hackers are resourceful, and some even obtain site certifications to make their fraudulent websites appear legitimate. Before visiting a dubious website, verify the certificate details and look for precautions.
Turn off your phone’s Wi-Fi.
Companies will exploit your connected device’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities to trace your purchase history if you shop online while out and about. While this isn’t necessarily dangerous, it can be strange to receive an advertisement for a pair of trainers just minutes after purchasing them online.
Make use of reliable communication methods.
If you’re shopping on Amazon, eBay, or another online marketplace, it is highly advised against communicating or transacting with sellers outside of the proper channels. When you pay for a purchase with a separate payment method, an online marketplace like Amazon is unable to mediate the transaction and issue a refund if something goes wrong.