Online shopping can be so much fun. You find a shiny object you love, click the “buy” button, and get a package delivered to your door.
But these transactions don’t always go so smoothly. In 2019, Internet Crime Complaint Center got an average of half a billion online theft complaints a day with a total of $10.5 billion in losses to individuals and businesses.
Because of these online scammers, TheGhanaTech.com has come out with some online shopping safety tips that can avoid you from being a victim.
5 Tips to protect yourself when shopping online
- Only Shop on Sites Using HTTPS
Let’s start with the most obvious advice: Only shop with sites that use HTTPS encryption. If the site is using HTTP, any data transferred over the connection, including payment details and passwords, is unencrypted, meaning that it can be read by anyone with some basic cybercrime know-how. Connecting to a site that uses HTTPS ensures that all transmitted data is encrypted and that would-be criminals can’t eavesdrop on your data.
Connecting to a site that uses HTTPS ensures that all transmitted data is encrypted and that would-be criminals can’t eavesdrop on your data. Keep in mind that while an encrypted connection (HTTPS) is obviously better than HTTP, that only means that your connection is secure. It doesn’t mean that the website is secure. The website could still be full of vulnerabilities and exposed databases and may have plenty of other weak spots.
HTTPS is good, but it doesn’t mean that you’re completely safe.
- Use Strong Passwords
This goes without saying, but use a strong password consisting of letters (both uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and special characters. Not only does that make it more difficult for would-be fraudsters to guess, but it also makes it extremely hard for anyone to access your account via a brute-force attack.
Don’t think you have anything to worry about? At the time of writing, there are 10,599,375,985 hacked accounts, according to the Have I Been Pwned database. Out of those 10.6 billion accounts hacked, at least one of those accounts was using a password more secure than yours.
- Use a VPN If Shopping in Public
When you’re browsing the internet on public Wi-Fi, anyone can see what you’re doing. Threat actors see this for what it is a chance to monitor your activity and capture your personal information, such as passwords or banking details.
When you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), all your traffic goes through an encrypted tunnel protecting your information from interception. This allows you to safely shop from anywhere even from a café or airport. Keep in mind, though, that a VPN doesn’t protect you from snoopers looking over your shoulder. When you do anything online that requires you to enter your credit card or bank details, it’s probably a good idea to do it at home.
- Pay with credit, not debit: Always use a credit card to shop as securely as possible. First, a credit card doesn’t give a seller direct access to the money in your bank account. Second, most credit cards offer $0 liability for fraud. That means you’re not out any money if a crook uses your account info to make a purchase. Your credit card company will ask questions, investigate the fraudulent activity and send you a new card.
- Don’t fall for email scams: You might get emails or texts offering amazing bargains or claiming there’s been a problem with package delivery. Delete suspicious messages from unfamiliar senders. And don’t open attachments or click links in messages because they could infect your computer or phone with viruses and other malware.