Many of us shop online. Having access to a variety of options is one benefit of online shopping. Many stores offer similar products but with competing prices and terms. We compare these alternatives before buying from the right shop. However, do you think about the safety of your information and money while shopping online?
Different stores have different goals and security systems. Some owners of e-commerce sites use them as a front to steal from unsuspecting clients. Other owners have weak security features that make them, and you, an easy target for hackers.
Do you want a secure online shopping experience? There are steps you can take to ensure your information and money are safe.
1. Check the Security of the Website
You can check a website’s security by looking for the lock icon in the URL field. The lock is the secure sockets layer. It shows that the site you are on has privacy protection.
Ensure the website’s protocol is HTTPS and not HTTP. The HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure) secures your information as it passes from your browser to the servers used by the site. The webpages without the ‘s’ in their protocol are not secure.
HTTP responses and requests are in plaintext. Anyone can read them. HTTPS rectifies this issue through SSL/TLS encryption.
How to Know if a Site Is Secure
Check for the HTTPS protocol and the padlock symbol to know if a website is safe. Webpages that do not have these features do not have an appropriate security system to protect you. You should avoid dealing with them.
Hackers can access any information you share with them. You may run the site’s URL through website safety checkers to determine if they are safe. Tools, like Google Safe Browsing, can tell you whether the webpage is secure.
Google Safe Browsing is an easy-to-use page that checks whether a site is safe and has any issues in seconds.
2. Look out for Email Scams
Criminals target people today through emails. They send you an enticing email asking you to perform specific actions. These messages are usually unsolicited. You rarely know the sender. If you get an email with an appealing subject line from a sender you do not recognize, think twice before opening it.
Criminals use a catchy subject line like a 50% discount to get you to open the email. Once you open the email or click the links they suggest, they infect your devices with malware and viruses.
You can protect yourself against scams by deleting the emails and not clicking any links they have. You should not open attachments from businesses you do not recognize.
3. Compare Prices
Legitimate e-commerce shops offer products at rates close to market prices. While they may have discounts, their deductions are typically reasonable. However, a fake business often offers deals that are too good to be true.
For example, it is difficult to imagine an online shop that sells a commodity at 50% below its market value. How will the company sustain itself?
Compare the prices of commodities in various secure websites before settling for the right site. If a store sells at unreasonably low rates, be careful. Such a website may not fulfill your order. It may exist only to get your information.
Look out for ‘bait and switch’ scam. This fraud happens when an e-commerce shop offers to sell a product at far below its usual price. Once you pay, they try to convince you to take a cheaper substitute.
4. Mask Your Identity Using VPN
Criminals can know your identity as you shop online. You need to protect yourself using a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN allows you to assume a new IP address. Once you connect to it, your traffic online becomes anonymous and encrypted.
Internet service providers cannot see your activities. Therefore, you will browse without them logging, recording, or using your information. Encryption and anonymity make it difficult for hackers to intercept internet traffic.
A VPN can also allow you to access shops that your ISP would typically not let you. Whenever you key in a search query, the ISP directs you to the sites near your IP address. You may not access websites from other countries.
A VPN will allow you access to shops that your ISP often declines to direct you to them.
5. Ensure the E-commerce Site Is Safe before You Enter Your Card Details
Many e-commerce stores request your information. You can share them if the site is secure. Do not give out unnecessary personal information. People can use your information for many criminal activities. They can use them to access your funds or impersonate you. You must provide your information to sites that have reliable security.
Check whether a site is secure by looking at its protocol. The website should have the HTTPS protocol and not merely HTTP. You may also check by looking at the lock icon. Sites that have this icon are secure.
6. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
You should not use public Wi-Fi to make orders or transactions. It is easy for tech-savvy people to intercept your web activities. They can look at your passwords, browsing history, and emails.
Criminals can use your log-in information to access the sites under your name and harm you. You provide a lot of details to e-commerce platforms. Hackers can access these details via public Wi-Fi. Only use secure personal networks to shop and pay for goods online.
In this digital age, e-commerce is thriving because of its many benefits. This growth attracts the attention of criminals who target unsuspecting customers. They lure them and steal their information or money.
These six tips should safeguard your details and cash while shopping online.
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