5 Tips for Online Shopping Safety
Follow these online security tips to stay safe when browsing and buying online.Scouring for deals during your lunchtime scroll, clicking on the latest coupon to hit your inbox, or buying a last-minute gift for this weekend’s birthday party – online shopping can take place anytime, anywhere. Are you staying safe while browsing for yourself or others?
Use a Guest AccountMany online retailers require you to create a username or password when completing your purchase. If possible, opt to sign in as a guest instead. This way, your payment information and personal details aren’t saved.
If you must create a password, use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. If you have trouble remembering a complex combination, use a phrase and substitute @ for the letter “a” or use a zero in place of the letter “o.” Though it may be a hassle, create a unique password for each website. If one retailer faces a data breach, this limits how much of your information is exposed.
Check the LockYou’ve found a good deal, loaded up your virtual shopping cart, and gotten out your credit card to complete your purchase.
Never enter your information without first checking the site’s security. You'll know if the site is secure because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS instead of just HTTP. Secure websites also have an icon of a locked padlock on the left side or at the bottom of the page.
Be Wary of App PermissionsDownloading a store’s mobile app can make shopping for furniture, clothes or toys easier. Make sure you download the verified app from the retailer as scammers have been known to spoof apps to collect sensitive information.
Also, check what privacy and location settings are accessible with any app you download. It might make sense for some apps to track your location, however, using autofill for usernames and passwords isn’t recommended.
Beware of Gift Card ScamsYou can find gift cards for sale on several online auction or exchange sites. Some are legitimate deals, but scammers are known to use gift cards for fraud. You have no way of verifying if the card is valid before your purchase, so it’s best to only purchase gift cards from the retailer itself.
Be ProactiveEven the most cautious person can become of victim of fraud. In addition to smart browsing, inoculating your computer and mobile devices with security software is wise. If a well-known retailer’s website is spoofed or even infected with malware, making sure you’re on the defense with safeguards can prevent information theft.
You can also be proactive by using a credit card instead of a debit card as credit cards offer more fraud protection.
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About the Author, Alex Cummings: Alex Cummings is the Information Security Awareness Program Manager for SouthState, overseeing information security training and communication. He’s been with the bank for 5 years. He studied computer information systems at the University of South Carolina, where he started the Cyber Security Club and was recognized in several regional and national competitions.