If you love online shopping, you are not alone. The National Retail Federation correctly predicted that online retail will grow 8%-12% beginning in 2017, up to three times higher than the growth rate of all total retail sales.

Obviously, many enjoy the benefits of online shopping since you don’t need to get stressed in traffic when driving to the mall and still spend time finding a parking space. Online stores are open 24/7, and you can do it anywhere, including in the comfort of your home. It’s easy to compare prices between multiple retailers and read both customer and professional reviews of products before you buy. Product selection is vast, and this includes many stores and unique items sold outside of the country, and products are shipped right to your door, or you can pick them up.

But to shop online safely and protect your personal identity from hackers, take heed of these online shopping safety behaviors.

Use the padlock

Always use a secure Internet connection when making a purchase. Reputable websites use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission. How do you find the secure websites? Simply look for the little padlock in the address bar or a URL that starts with “https” instead of “http,” as the “s” stands for “secure.” Some browsers will tell you it’s safe to give out your credit card by showing you a green address bar, while unprotected ones will be highlighted in red.

Use a secure payment method

Only shop at sites that take secure payment methods, such as credit cards and PayPal, as they likely give you buyer protection in case there’s a problem. Thus, you won’t be held liable for fraudulent charges and you get to be notified by your credit card company or bank if suspicious activity is detected. It’s always a good idea to review your account transactions online or go through monthly paper statements to see if anything looks questionable. Beware of sites and apps that only accept money orders, wire transfers, or checks. Look for well-known security labels such as DigiCert or VeriSign.

Use strong passwords and change them routinely

Many use a passphrase instead of a password, which is typically a long sequence of strung-together words that is also easier to remember. For example, the sentence “My dog Eddie has a birthday May 15!” could be used to create a passphrase like “Md3habM15!” It’s also good to change your shopping passwords often, just in case someone guesses them, or if there’s a data breach at an online retailer. Never use the same password for all online shopping sites (or other Web activities, like online banking), as once someone guesses one password, they can penetrate into everything else you have.

Never shop using public hotspots

Never do any online shopping using a public computer (airport or hotel lounges) or when you’re using a public Wi-Fi network such as in a coffee shop or at the mall). You never know if your information is hacked and logged, so do your online transactions at home or use your smartphone as a personal hotspot, which is safer than free Wi-Fi.

On a related note, keep your devices up to date by turning on “automatic updates.” Always have good anti-malware software installed to catch threats like viruses.

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This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 4:30:19 AM and is filed under Computer Security & Data Protection.

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