Do you plan on shopping online this holiday season? If you answered yes, then you are among the 51% who are also planning to, according to a 2012 survey by Harris Interactive. This survey also cited different reasons for shopping online, 71% thought they could find better deals, and 31% wanted to circumvent crazy holiday crowds.
Online shopping is a popular trend that increases every year. Cyber-criminals are also getting in on this trend by ramping up efforts to rip off people’s identities and credit card numbers. To be fair, there are also risks associated with traditional shopping, like pickpockets and traffic accidents; the key then to successful shopping, is to be familiar with secure shopping practices. Here are four tips to make sure your online present shopping goes smoothly, and does not present you with any unwanted surprises.
Protect Your PC
Before you make another online transaction, you will first want to make sure your computer has a clean bill of health. Update your security software and scan your computer before beginning your online shopping adventure. Existing security threats can do big damage; for example, if your PC is currently infected with a keylogger, then a hacker will have access to anything you type, including credit card numbers. It is also a best security practice to make sure that all of your software is updated before shopping online; this includes your web browser, security software, and even your operating system.
Don’t Trust Just Anybody
Have you ever gotten an email advertising a new iPhone for 70% off? This is a scam. Do not shop from unsolicited emails, or from any marketing ploy that seems too good to be true. Your best bet is to stick with the official websites of trusted companies. If you are not sure if a website is legitimate or not, then you can perform research with websites like ResellerRating.com and Bizrate.com. These sites have customer reviews and postings of false companies.
Anytime you send sensitive data over the internet, you are going to want to look for a padlock icon in the address bar, and make sure it is in the locked position. The padlock indicates the page encrypts your data with a secure socket layer (SSL), this means hackers cannot read your information. Every web browser is a little different, one way to make sure the site is an SSL page is to check the URL and make sure it begins with HTTPS://, instead of the regular HTTP://. There are also several internet companies that allow you to open the webpage in a secure virtual window. Your security software may offer this feature.
Credit is Preferable
Once money is removed from your account with a debit card, it is gone for good. Credit cards on the other hand, have a “charge back” option that will allow you to contest a fraudulent charge if you catch it in time. This means it is a good practice to regularly check your credit card statements to try and spot any unapproved transactions. If you are uneasy about shopping online with your credit card, then you can still shop the web using rechargeable credit cards and gift cards.
We have three bonus tips we want share with you to enhance your security when shopping online. All of these tips are rooted in common sense. Remember to trust your gut, if something smells afoul, then do not proceed.
- Never shop over a public Wi-Fi.
- When shopping from mobile devices use apps that originate from the company.
- Use strong and complex passwords when creating an online account.
We at TMS wish you a safe, secure, and happy holiday shopping experience. If you call us at 1 (626) 737-2960, or write to us on a greeting card, we can check your PC or mobile devices for any embedded viruses or spyware, and even add security software if you need it. For the ultimate security solution, TMS can manage your network and firewall. In fact, we can make your network so airtight, that the only cookies you end up with will be left overs from your holiday bash.