You have every reason to prefer shopping online rather than in a brick-and-mortar store, since you get both the bargains and the convenience of shopping in the comfort of your home. On top of that, the products are delivered directly to your doorstep, so all you need to do is open that frustration-free package to enjoy the purchase.
In fact, there has been a noticeable increase in the popularity of online shopping. The industry has grown from millions of dollars to trillions being spent online. Just to throw in some numbers: the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce estimated that ecommerce sales for 2017 at $453.5 billion, up 16% from 2016.
Looking forward, experts anticipate that worldwide ecommerce sales will grow from $1.3 trillion to $4.5 trillion by 2021. That's a more than threefold increase in just six years. The stage is set, and shopping has never been easier.
But there is one thing you need to keep in mind: the bad guys are usually where the money is. This could serve as some sort of explanation for the rise in phishing attacks, and you may have heard of various breaches leaking sensitive customer data such as the huge Target hack that compromised the data of 70 million people and cost the company $220.5 million.
With all the data breaches we read about almost on a daily basis it’s important that you protect yourself and your sensitive data held within the online accounts. To help with that, here are our most important tips on securing your internet spending sprees.
1. Look for the Lock Icon
Alongside shopping from known online shops, you should be sure to only insert credit card data only into sites that use SSL (secure socket layer). This is the bare minimum: if you don't see that “https” and the icon of a locked padlock, then navigate away from the web store because otherwise you might end up with fraudulent charges on your bank card.
Given the rise in phishing scams, always be vigilant and only click on links via legitimate emails. But the best policy of all is to not click on any links in any email but instead type the URL of the page into your browser.
2. Pay Using a Credit Card or PayPal
Two of the safest ways to pay online are by PayPal or credit card. Both have their advantages, such as the easy checking of your statement via the online account. Look for fraudulent charges, and contact PayPal or the bank if you spot anything at all that might be a suspicious transaction.
3. Use Strong Passwords
We know it could become tiresome reading over and over again that you should create unique and cryptographically secure passwords for every online account, but that's one of the basics of internet security. Skip this step and what you'll essentially be doing is handing over your credit card data to a hacker and inviting them to shop with it.
4. Avoid Shopping on Public Wi-Fi
While grabbing a bargain is often a race against the clock, don't rush to shop on public Wi-Fi as this is the favorite spot for hackers looking for their next target. It goes without saying that you should also avoid public terminals; only use your own desktop or laptop to make that purchase. If you must do it, use a VPN.
5. Be Cautious with Home Deliveries
While highly convenient, home deliveries also bring their own headaches. Is the guy you open the door to a legitimate delivery person? If you aren't home and the package is left on your doorstep, will it remain there? We've all heard stories about packages being stolen by neighbors. And finally, check your credit card monthly statement for any unexpected changes: some customers have been ‘surprised’ by extra charges for delivery without their knowledge.
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