Online Shopping Safety
When the internet was new, few people trusted it enough for their holiday shopping. Times have changed! Today, 76 percent of U.S. adults do some form of online shopping. In fact, more than half say they prefer it to shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. And, globally, e-commerce sales are expected to $5.5 trillion this year! Unfortunately, since online is where the shoppers are going, so follow the thieves. So, how do you protect yourself this year while shopping online?
Use Strong Passwords
Set different passwords for different accounts.
Never share your password with anyone, especially not your spouse or family members. (One exception is your IT team. We won’t be able to get into your computer without your password. But you can reset it as soon as you pick it up.)
Change your password regularly and don’t reuse old ones. If you reuse a password from an older account on a new one, hackers will be able to access both accounts if they ever get hold of either one of them again in the future through methods like phishing or keylogging malware installed on computers at the login page (we've seen this happen). Using strong passwords makes it harder for hackers who have stolen credentials from one site to break into other sites using that same username and password combination; they'll have less luck guessing at random.
If you use a password manager, rely only on Apple or Google chrome. Sharing your personal information with another third-party site could become problematic. The general rule of thumb is, if it is too easy for you to login to something, it will be for internet thieves, as well.
Use a random combination of letters, numbers. and symbols.
Never use birth dates, anniversaries, and pets names as passwords since thieves may access your social media accounts to try to crack your password. Change your passwords regularly, especially if you have been hacked or have lost your device since the last time you changed them.
Look for the (secure) padlock symbol and HTTPS
Before you enter your password, check the URL of the site you’re on. If it's in green and looks like "https://" then it is a secure website! The “S” is what signifies the site is secure.
This means that your data is encrypted and can't be intercepted by third parties while you're browsing.
If you see "http://", then the site might not be fully secure. Beware of imitators
There are many ways to spot a fake website. The first thing to do is ensure that the URL is correct. If you see an incorrect domain name, or if it does not start with https://www., then beware!
Make sure that the product brand name is correct (i.e., Apple or Dell). If there’s any doubt about it being a fake, look for a logo on the site to verify its authenticity.
Finally, check if it looks like an official company website by checking its contact information and seeing if it has any social media accounts listed on their site.
There are many ways to spot a fake website. The first thing to do is:
• Ensure that the URL is correct. If you see an incorrect domain name, or if it does not start with http://www., then beware!
• Make sure that the product brand name is correct (i.e., Apple or Dell). If there’s any doubt about it being a fake, look for a logo on the site to verify its authenticity.
• Check to make sure the company website looks official. Check the contact information and make sure social media accounts listed on the site connect to verified accounts.
Pay by credit card over other methods
When it comes to online shopping, credit cards are safer than debit cards. When you use a credit card, your money isn't withdrawn from your bank account until the retailer sends you an itemized receipt and has been paid by your card issuer. That means that if a retailer goes out of business or is fraudulent, you won't lose any of your money.
Since most companies do not accept prepaid debit cards, there is no way for them to verify the identity of their customers before they ship an item—and that makes it easy for thieves to acquire their goods without paying for them in advance or leaving any traceable evidence behind.
However, if there were ever an issue with one of these prepaid cards (for example: if someone steals another person's information), then that victim would be responsible for any fraudulent purchases made on his or her behalf; what's more: he/she wouldn't even be able to dispute those charges because banks consider this type of fraud as "friendly fraud" (when someone knowingly signs up with a company under false pretenses).
Keep records and check your statements
• Keep records of your online shopping transactions.
• Check your statements for fraudulent transactions.
• Report any suspicious transactions to your bank.
Shopping online is quite safe if you follow a few commonsense rules.
While it’s perfectly safe to shop online, there are some things you can do to help keep yourself and your accounts safe.
• Always use strong passwords that are different from those of your other online accounts. Don't store them anywhere on your computer or phone, either—write them down and keep them in a secure place away from prying eyes.
• Use two-factor authentication wherever possible to protect yourself from hackers attempting to access your account via email or phone number hijacking.
• If you're unsure whether an online retailer is reputable, check their Better Business Bureau rating before placing an order with them for the first time.
Enjoy yourself as you shop this holiday season. But be safe!
About 208Geek in Meridian, Idaho
Owner/Operator Jacob Van Vliet began building and repairing computer systems for friends and family out of his home in 2001. Jacob was receiving so many requests for computer repair, that in the Fall of 2005, he opened 208 Geek with the vision of providing outstanding service and peace of mind. He has committed 208 Geek to delivering unparalleled, friendly, and professional service, with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.