Online Shopping Safety
Download a reputable antivirus software to protect your private data.
Check Every Site
Before entering any payment information, review the site’s policies.
Remember: thieves will attempt to trick you using deception and invasion.
Safe Online Shopping
- Deception. In the virtual world, it can be hard to distinguish reputable retailers from criminals, as just about anyone can set up fraudulent a website that appears to be a legitimate business.
- Invasion. You may inadvertently download spyware on your computer that allows access to your personal information and passwords, and sophisticated hackers can breach online business databases to harvest customer payment information.
1. Use a good anti-malware programThis may sound obvious, but many people ignore the advice to install anti-malware software. It is critical that online shoppers secure their PC from viruses and other attacks. To ensure that your security program’s protection stays current, keep its virus and malware signatures up-to-date. Fortunately, most programs can automatically update these signatures, so be sure the automatic updating feature is enabled in your software. Further, because viruses can swiftly change and mutate, use a program designed to detect newly created or mutated threats even before their signature is part of the automatic updates. iolo’s System Shield® AntiVirus & AntiSpyware uses Sentient Technology, a heuristic feature that adapts to yet unclassified attacks based on behavioral analysis.
2. Optimize your PC’s security settingsIn addition to maintaining and updating your antivirus and antispyware protection, make sure your PC’s security settings are optimized. Many malicious programs are explicitly designed to take advantage of security vulnerabilities in operating systems and web browsers. Two simple ways to protect yourself:
- Keep your browser and operating system up-to-date: take the time to install those free updates and security patches when they’re released. Here too, you may want to enable your settings so that these updates are installed automatically.
- Run System Mechanic’s Security Optimizer, which automatically finds and repairs vulnerabilities and loopholes that may exist in your operating system and web browser.
3. Only share payment information with reputable vendorsThe single best thing you can to do protect yourself is to be careful about who you’re giving your payment details to. If you’re not entirely sure whether the retailer you’re visiting is reliable, do some research to verify its authenticity and security. Or use a third-party payment processor instead of giving your payment information directly to the online store. Most accept payment from trusted third-party processors, such as PayPal or Google Checkout. This limits the risk of your payment details getting into the wrong hands because it is ultimately handled by fewer online entities.
4. Use a credit card instead of a debit cardCredit cards can be the safer choice for online shopping—if someone manages to intercept your card details online, they can do less damage and you have more recourse than if you’d used a debit card. This is for two reasons:
- Credit cards have spending limits, while debit cards—which are directly linked to your bank account—do not.
- You can dispute fraudulent charges made to a credit card without being out-of-pocket the amount in dispute, but money withdrawn directly from your checking account by a debit card is much more difficult to recover.
5. Make sure the order checkout area is encryptedBefore you purchase anything from a website, verify that the vendor has encrypted its payment form so that your internet connection is staying safe. Many sites use SSL (secure sockets layer) technology to encrypt information flowing between your computer and the store’s server; this is typically indicated with a padlock icon and a website address that starts with “https” instead of “http”. You can even check this on a mobile device by looking for a similar security icon near your browser’s address bar.
6. Print or save a copy of your ordersIt’s always a good idea to keep documentation of your online purchases. Most retailers will send you an email or refer you to a web page with a confirmation of your purchase; this page should include a purchase receipt and a confirmation number. Print or save the confirmation and keep it until you receive your product.
7. Use strong passwordsOften, one of the most critical security steps is the one we give the least attention to—our passwords. Passwords can be the best security defenses we have, but if they’re not created properly, a hacker can easily guess them. For any online shopping accounts you have, be sure to create good passwords. Here are some quick guidelines on how to choose a secure password:
- Use a mixture of different characters. For example, add a variety of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, or symbols. A personally-relevant but lengthy passphrase works great for protecting your information.
- Don’t use private information and dictionary words. A thief might be able to figure out passwords tied to your personal life, like your kid’s birthdate, your dog’s name, or your favorite sports team. Additionally, commonly-used “dictionary words” are some of the first options for a hacker to use to compromise your passphrase.
- Don’t use the same password across multiple sites. A data breach at one company could give criminals access to your other accounts. Using a password manager such as ByePass is recommended to ensure the security of your various passphrases.