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Who doesn’t love shopping online? Pressing a few buttons then having your new item show up just a day or two later without having to leave the house is such a gratifying feeling. However, in our rush to get things online, we often forget about protecting our data.
Did you know that since the COVID lockdown started, there has already been ₤16 million lost due to online shopping fraud in the UK? Since even more people are shopping online right now, It is the perfect time to take a look at what security measures you have in place to protect your data when you shop online. We’ve compiled a list of things you can do to make sure your data stays safe.
1. Use a VPN
A VPN, or a virtual private network, is an easy way to protect your data online. A VPN masks your IP address which can help hackers away from your private information. Using a VPN is especially recommended if you are using public wifi.
2. Do your research
When you’re shopping somewhere new, make sure to look up the company and see if they have active social media accounts, a phone number, an email address, and all the things you would expect a company to have. If they do, that is a good indicator that they are a trustworthy place to shop. If not, it might be a sign that the company is a scam so probably best to find another place to shop.
3. Use a virtual credit card
Virtual credit cards are becoming more common, and they are a great way to keep your credit card information safe. A virtual credit card is a credit card number that is linked to your account but is not a real physical credit card. You can control how long the number is in use, which means you have the ability to generate a new number after each new purchase if you wanted. This means that if a hacker got that number and tried to use it, it wouldn’t work because the number would no longer be in use.
4. Make sure you have strong passwords
Having a secure password may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure your password is secure. It’s easy just to use the same or similar passwords over and over again, but it’s a good idea to make sure you’re making your passwords unique. An easy way to do this is to download a password manager that can create and remember complicated passwords for you.
5. Try not to use public wifi
Even though not many people are using wifi in public spaces right now, it is still important to know the risks of connecting to it, if you do. Because the wifi can be so easily accessed, people can use it to see what you have on your computer: your passwords, your emails, and other sensitive information. If you have to use public wifi, we recommend that you use a VPN.
6. Make sure the website you are shopping on has SSL
An SSL, or secure sockets layer, is an encryption code that many websites use to protect your credit card information. The way you can tell if the page has an SSL is if, instead of “http” at the beginning of the URL, it says “https”. You are also likely to see a lock on the left-hand corner of the address bar beside the URL. So when entering your credit card information on a website, its good practice to have a quick look at the URL to ensure it’s a secure website. Don’t stress too much about it though: this type of encryption is quite common and most browsers are able to recognise a URL without it. They even give you a warning message before loading the page.
7. Check your statements regularly
Checking your statements on a regular basis is always a good idea, and making sure your information is secure is one of the main reasons why. Checking for and noting any unusual charges or charges for items you never received is an easy way to catch scammers.
8. Ensure your antivirus software is up to date
Well, first it’s important to have antivirus software on your computer. Second, it is just as essential to keep it up-to-date. Hackers adapt continuously, which means that it is vital that your computer has the software most adept to deal with them. Because of this, in order to protect yourself the best you can online, its good practice to keep your security software up-to-date.
9. Save your receipts
When you order something online, don’t delete that confirmation email. Knowing your order number, having a record of what you ordered, and everything else in that email can help you if you have to contact the company or double-check prices in your account if something seems off.
10. Beware of “too good to be true” prices
We’ve all seen an ad for a product and thought “that price cannot be real”. That is because, most likely, it’s not. There are several reasons why a website would have those suspiciously low prices, one of which is to gain your personal information.
11. Be mindful of the information you’re handing out
When shopping online, be mindful of the information you are giving away. If it’s asking you for information that shouldn’t be necessary or seems unusual, it would be a good idea to try another website to buy the product you’re looking for.
12. Don’t be afraid to report suspicious companies
If you buy something from a company that you are pretty sure is a scam, make sure to report it. This helps ensure that whoever is scamming people won’t be able to do it anymore.
Online shopping is a great way to shop, but as with many things you still need to make sure you’re doing it safely.
- Author The Bamboo Team
- Posted 25 August 2020