Online shopping is now becoming one of the hottest trends, especially as the Holiday season approaches. Most of us couldn’t do without the ease of online shopping. Whether it means getting a good bargain for a pair of shoes or a gaming console, online shopping gives us quick access to products, services, and special deals similar to what we see when we’re physically shopping at malls or establishments.

However, we should not forget that online shopping also impose security risks. The popularity and profitability of online retail has resulted to cybercriminals who would greedily take advantage of unwary shoppers. Their strategies may include:

  • Deception. In the virtual world, it can be hard to distinguish reputable retailers from criminals, as just about anyone can set up fraudulent a web site that appears to be a legitimate business.
  • Invasion. You may inadvertently download spyware on your computer that allows access to your personal information and passwords, and sophisticated hackers can breach online business databases to obtain customer payment information.

Even if you consider yourself an expert online shopper, it’s always important to make sure your experience is the safest as it can possibly be. Check out some general tips that you can do to make your online shopping safer:

  • Do not send your credit card information thru email, nor post them in social media (even if it’s just a private message to a friend), or enter them in an unsecured or suspicious website.
  • Do not give more information than what is necessary. Retailers usually don’t need to know details like your date of birth or social security number. So, there’s no reason why you should also give those details, right?
  • Check the vendor’s physical address and contact number before you proceed in buying. Doing a research about the vendor is also a good way to determine if the vendor is legitimate or not.
  • Don’t forget to log out of your account after making a purchase.

1. Use a reliable anti-malware program

There are lots of Internet users who overlook the importance of installing anti-malware program in their computers. It is critical that online shoppers protect their computers from viruses and other attacks.

To make sure that your security program’s protection is updated, it’s recommended to keep its virus and malware signatures up-to-date. Good thing there are a number of programs that are capable of automatically updating its signatures, so make sure that this particular feature is activated on your anti-malware software.

2. Share payment information only with reputable vendors

Another big consideration that you must do when shopping online is to be careful about who you’re giving your payment details to. Do some authenticity research first if you’re not completely sure whether the retailer you’re going to transact with is reliable or not. Another option you can do is to use a third-party payment processor instead of giving your payment information directly to the online store. Most retailers accept payments from legitimate third-party processors such as PayPal or Google Checkout. Through this, it will minimize the risk of your payment details getting into the wrong hands, because it is handled by fewer online entities.

3. Use a credit card instead of a debit card

Using a credit card when shopping online can be safer — if someone manages to intercept your financial information online, they can do less harm and you have more recourse than if you’d used a debit card. Here are the two reasons for that:

Credits cards have spending limits, while debit cards, which are directly linked to your account, do not.

You can dispute fraudulent charges made to a credit card without being out-of-pocket the amount in dispute, but the money withdrawn straight from your checking account by a debit card is much more difficult to recover.

If you’re going to use a credit when making online purchases, use one that has a low credit limit. Some banks now offer “one-time use” or “virtual” credit cards that are specifically designed for online shopping, which are good only for one transaction from a specific vendor.

4. Print or save a copy of your orders

Another good precautionary measure is to keep a documentation of your online purchases. Most retailers will send you an email or provide you a link with a confirmation of your purchase. This page should include a purchase receipt and a confirmation number. You may print or save the confirmation page and keep it as your reference and proof until you receive your product.

5. Use strong passwords

Setting up a strong password is one of the most critical security step that we often overlook. Passwords are considered to be one of the most reliable defenses we can have against the harmful attacks online. But if done incorrectly, a password can become useless from a seasoned hacker who knows how to decrypt it. For every online shopping account you have, make sure to create a strong password that will serve as your primary defense line.

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This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 9:03:05 PM and is filed under Computer Security & Data Protection, Tech Tips & Tricks.

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