Keep yourself out of online trouble with these simple steps
Guest post by Mike James
Many of us don’t think twice about typing in our card details on an unfamiliar site if we spot a bargain – but online shops aren’t always what they seem. Here are our top tips to help you stay safe when you do your online shopping.
#1 | Use familiar and popular sites
If in doubt, opt for websites and brands that are familiar to you. Very popular and successful businesses have built up their reputation by being trustworthy and offering high quality products. You will feel more confident and secure shopping on sites that other people trust. Of course that doesn’t mean that you need to assume that every website you have never heard of is out to scam you – many online retailers are trustworthy. Check how safe the retailer itself is considered by looking at sites like Trustpilot and Review Centre.
#2 | Use a credit card or PayPal
Credit cards are a better bet than debit cards when you come to do your online shopping. They tend to offer additional protection, not least because the money that is spent on a credit card isn’t actually your own funds. That means that if you are subject to fraud, the money can be immediately removed from your credit card debt. PayPal and other secure online payments might be even better as you aren’t giving any data to the website aside from the email address of your PayPal account.
#3 | Create accounts with strong passwords
Almost every online shopping site will ask you to create an account before you can make purchases. The problem with this is that you then have the task of remembering all of the passwords that you make for these accounts. Some people, in an attempt to make it easier to remember their login details, utilise weak passwords that are easy to remember. Unfortunately this can make your account easy to access in the event of a hack against the retailer. From this, cyber criminals could take your data, even if the site itself is legitimate.
#4 | Look for the padlock
When you come to make a payment, check that the website you are using is secure. You will be able to see the ‘https’ tag at the front of the URL as well as a pad-lock symbol. This indicates that the site is operating an online safety protocol that encrypts any data that you send. Be cautious of sites that are willing to accept payment without this kind of safety procedure. Once again, even if that site itself is not looking to defraud you, it leaves you open to attacks from cyber criminals.
#5 | Don’t make payments on public Wi-Fi
Many people don’t realise the dangers of making purchases over public Wi-Fi. For example, if you’re sitting in a coffee shop and you connect to their Wi-Fi, you should not make any purchases or payments. This is because the network itself is not secure it may be possible to access information that you have sent.
A bit about Mike
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer specialising in online safety. For some of the information in this post, Best VPN were consulted.