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The internet paved the way for businesses to explode with growth. They soon figured they could offer the best prices as well as service, in terms of the time it takes to have whatever you order at your door.
The convenience factor has made online shopping the favorite choice, especially during the holidays. There is Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.
When you shop online you do it for the sheer convenience and money saving opportunities. But at what cost? If you are careless it could come back to bite you in a major way.
While there are many benefits of shopping online there are also many dangers, and if you are not careful you can become the victim of hacked bank accounts, stolen credit card information, and even compromised personal details. Make sure you pay attention to these five tips this holiday season to ensure you are protected online.
1. Online shop on websites you know and trust.
It’s best to only shop on websites that you trust and know for a fact are the real deal. If you encounter a new website you will want to do a little research. The first thing you want to do is make sure it’s secure. You can check any website’s SSL certificate by clicking here.
If they don’t at the very least have a secure website leave. There is no reason to risk it. Most merchant accounts will not even issue the ability to process payments online to a website that isn’t secure so if they are not it’s a major red flag.
2. If it’s too good to be true walk away.
Anyone can quickly launch a website and put up products. If something looks too good to be true it probably is. If a website randomly pops up before the holidays and is offering a $1,000 TV for $150 then guess what? If you place an order you will likely not receive it and be out $150.
Use common sense. If something is hard to believe there is a good chance it’s a scam. Yes there are deals, but those are usually done by the large stores and they actually take a loss in order to get you shopping on their website. It’s a marketing expense.
3. Use a VPN to stay anonymous and secure.
To be totally protected online use a VPN service. This hides your location and masks your true IP address. This way the website can’t track you and if their data is compromised they will not get access to your internet footprint.
There are a lot of very affordable VPN services. There are even great deals if you pay in advance. The last time I renewed my own VPN service I paid about $33 dollars to extend an extra 3 years. $11 a year to protect my information online is worth it to me.
4. Avoid websites that force you to create an account or store payment details.
If a website is hacked and personal account information is downloaded, but you didn’t allow them to store it you will be fine. So, avoid websites that force you to register an account or store payment information.
Most websites will have a “checkout as a guest” option. Do that every time, even if it’s a website that you shop at often. I just don’t like the idea of letting my personal information sit on a website.
5. Don’t use public Wi-Fi to shop online.
“Do you have Wi-Fi” is a questions most businesses or public areas are asked. Everyone wants to connect. But there are several dangers of using public Wi-Fi.
You never want to shop using public Wi-Fi because your credit card details could easily be stolen. It’s as simple as that. When it comes time to buy, make sure you are using your home computer on a secure internet connection, while also connected to a VPN like mentioned above.
Internet safety isn’t something to take lightly. There are people out there trying to get your information. Make sure you stay protected during this holiday season.
- Daniel Willis is one of two co-founders of this blog and has several years of art and culture experience, where he has been published by some of the most iconic and well respected books and resources.