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5 Safety Tips for the Savvy Online Shopper
by Debbie Phillips
Online shopping has many perks. You can easily find the right size, color and price you are looking for without driving around town, dealing with crowds and waiting in line. However, it is important to consider the safety of your financial information while shopping online. With the increased use of mobile devices for online shopping, additional precautions also need to be considered.
1. Check the URL
Many of us don’t think about the “https” in front of most web addresses. In fact most web browsers don’t even require typing it in. However, the “S” on the end signifies that you are currently looking at a secure website. Occasionally, you may stumble across a site that begins with “http” with out the “S.” These sites are not secure, and you should avoid making purchases from them. Don’t forget to zoom in on the URL when on your mobile device to check for the “S” either.
2. Use Secure WiFi
Public WiFi connections are available everywhere to tap into on your phone, iPad or laptop. However, these public WiFi networks often allow hackers to easily snoop in on what you are doing and take your credit card information. As a rule, never enter financial or other private information into a mobile device while on an unsecured network. Instead, do some window shopping and plan what you will purchase when you are back on a secure connection.
3. Don’t Trust Everyone
This should be a given where the Internet is concerned, but many shoppers have been taken in by the promise of a low price or a deal that in reality is too good to be true. If you are considering a purchase from a vendor you are unfamiliar with, check the reviews written about that vendor, and be sure to look at any added costs, such as shipping fees. When purchasing apps for your mobile device, only go through official app stores, and read reviews before purchasing to make sure a faulty app hasn’t slipped through the cracks.
4. Be Aware of Scams
Most online shoppers will come across a scam or two.
Phishing is a type of scam where an email is disguised as a legitimate company, such as a bank, and asks for a payment or password information. Most of these are easily identifiable and deleted. However, an especially convincing one can come along every once in a while. If you are unsure of the origin of an email, check the address from which the email was sent, avoid clicking on hyperlinks and always contact the organization to prove the legitimacy of the email.
SMiShing is a relatively new type of scam where a scammer sends out text messages offering some type of incentive to visit a website and give up your financial information. Just remember, it it’s too good to be true, it probably is, and legitimate companies won’t ask you to give up your financial information online.
5. Put a Password on Your Information
Most of us protect our wallet from being stolen. However, many of us don’t think about the implication of having our phone or other mobile device stolen. Most of these devices hold our personal and financial information in everything from our email to our banking app and shopping history. A simple way to keep your information safe, is to put a password on your phone and have it turned off as soon as you discover it’s missing.
Debbie Phillips is a staff writer for ShopSleuth.com. She is a black belt tightwad with more than 15 years of experience stretching her shopping budget while raising a family. She lives outside San Francisco, CA with her husband and two daughters.
Image credit: SXC.hu.