The success, and breadth, of online shopping options is something of a double-edged sword. While it’s true that being able to get just about anything you could ever want, just by clicking a button, is something of a seismic leap it also presents a wealth of resultant security concerns.
These concerns are very real. Far too many people shop online seemingly oblivious, or ignorant, of the possible ramifications.
Just as the industries related to online shopping have experienced incredible turnover, year on year, so have the criminal elements who have evolved their practices accordingly, and therefore also made mind boggling financial gains from doing so.
Most online fraud comes in the form of some sort of identity theft, which in its most basic sense is simply the act of a nefarious individual (or entity or company) pretending to be you in order to either withdraw money from the payment methods they glean from you or simply to purchase assets for their own benefit.
Last year it was reported that 47% of Americans had experienced some form of identity theft, and that number is all the more shocking given that it’s relatively easy (for the most part) to protect yourself from such activity.
Due to the rapid rise in the use of online shopping, too many of us have become too complacent about their online shopping behavior. This has made it all too easy for criminals to mine our data, steal from us and leave us in mountains of debt (some of which we can’t easily recoup).
There are a few very easy, and basic, steps you can take to keep yourself ahead of the crooks and scammers, and here are a few that you should implement before you make a single further online purchase.
Do Your Research
While clearly a great deal of the most common online purchasing happens in behemoth organizations like Amazon, eBay etc… a lot of it also occurs at less well-known establishments.
Therefore we suggest you always do your research before you enter any of your details during a sign-up.
There are many great sites that do a lot of that research for you, for instance we’d suggest you navigate to this website to find the answer in relation to the validity of a service, there you’ll also find the most reputable options right out of the gate.
Use a Credit Card Where Possible
Using a credit card, and not a debit card, as a debit card can be more easily tied to your bank account and that may lead to severe damage occurring. Also main credit card providers offer coverage and protection from fraudulent use of your card.
In relation to this matter, always regularly check your statements so that any nefarious activity can be detected right away. Also only enter your details to an online store when you are 100% sure it’s legitimate.
More Than One Password
Yes, this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people use the same password for all their activity and indeed that password itself being something very obvious like a birthdate or a relevant name.
Using a password manager will help you keep on top of the numerous, different, passwords you might choose to use. This option will help to significantly improve the chance of avoiding identity theft.
If It’s Too Good to be True
Sometimes you’ll be sent links or emails from sources you don’t recognize, maybe because you opted into giving your email to a provider or because your information was mined. You should, as a rule, never click through from any of these notices, as it’s very likely it would lead to your device or computer being hacked or compromised.
Along with this golden rule, try to avoid sites and offers that just seem entirely unbelievable and are, in all likelihood, enticements to lead you to providing information that can be used to elicit funds from your accounts.
One good rule of thumb would be to consider any such ‘invite’ as suspicious and consider how you’d react if the same offer was made in person, you’ll then more than likely elect to avoid this at all costs, but because it comes online you think less about the consequences. Always tread carefully.
Check the Identity of the Seller, Make Sure They Pass the Character Test
When buying online from a provider, such as Amazon or eBay, make sure to check out the reviews of their previous sales and look specifically for the ‘worst’ reviews, if these amount to silly little issues and are vastly outnumbered by good reviews, then proceed. If however the overall reviews are outweighed in the negative category, then buy from another seller.
This approach works the same when visiting a new site you’ve never used before, check the seller’s information. Check out the information provided on their site, name of company, address and email. If the site is a known source of scamming activity then even a simple search like this will ring alarm bells via your Google search.
Create a Unique Username and Password for Each Online Store You Sign-Up With
By adopting a new approach to each place you shop you are adding a further layer to your data. For instance, if someone manages to hack a certain online store and garners the login details for it’s thousands, maybe even millions, of users then whoever has this information will typically then try to use this in other locations.
It can then lead to a domino effect and a simple way to make sure only one of your dominos falls, is to simply change up your username and password each time. You can, again, store this information in a password manager for further ease of use.