5 Important Tips to Shop Safely Online

We’re just a few weeks away from marathon of online shopping deals — starting with Labor Day, continuing through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and finishing with the Holiday season. Shopping on the web is now so easy that you could check off every box on your list without ever leaving your home. But with convenience also comes risk.

Every year it’s another news story. Malware, breaches and fake sites scam innocent shoppers who never saw it coming. But that won’t be you — not if you follow these easy steps to avoid falling victim to theft and shopping safely online.

1. Use a Credit Card

There’s no reason to use a debit card anywhere but your bank’s ATM, and that goes double for online shopping. Both credit and debit cards are vulnerable to theft, but at least a credit card isn’t tied directly to your checking account. Imagine going to pay your rent or mortgage only to find out someone stole thousands from your account and left you with a zero balance. Your bank likely protects you from liability, but it could take days to get that cash back, causing overdue fees on the bills you need to pay now.

2. Use Trustworthy Hardware

Malicious shopping websites use malware to attack both computers and phones, and the best way to protect yourself is to use trustworthy hardware and keep it updated. But what is trustworthy? Reputable computer companies like Apple, Sony and Dell with the latest version of MacOS and Windows 10 will help protect computers. Modern smartphones, like the new Android phones, use the best mobile processors to keep you protected. For example, Qualcomm Snapdragon uses its own hardware-based security platform, Qualcomm Haven, to detect malware.

3. Don’t Click Through Emails

Promotional emails are fun and they usually contain some great details, but be careful what you click. Scammers create dummy emails that look like the real deal from your favorite online retailer. And when you click the link, it looks like the real website, but it’s actually a fake to steal your credit card information. The next time you see a good deal via email, close it and type in the website address manually to make sure it’s real.

4. Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi

The Wi-Fi at the coffee shop and credit card numbers just don’t mix. Use your home’s internet connection or your own LTE when shopping online. Today’s computers and smartphones are pretty good about staying secure in the public, but it’s just one more loophole for hackers to use to steal your financial data.

5. Avoid Third-Party Sellers

Mega-retailers like Amazon are fantastic. They offer quick shipping, low prices, and sell virtually anything. But there’s a caveat to many products you see on Amazon — they’re not always sold by Amazon and many sellers have a less-than-stellar reputation. The next time you’re shopping online, verify that the product is sold and shipped by Amazon and not by a random person or company. In some cases, the product may be sold by the company that makes it and that is okay. The important thing to look for is a company or username you don’t recognize.

Lastly, when in doubt, back out. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right. Deals that are too good to be true, unfamiliar websites and suspicious promotions are all perfectly good reasons to shop elsewhere. Just use caution and proper judgement


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