The great thing about shopping online is that it is fast, convenient, and oftentimes much simpler than browsing up and down aisles at the store in the hopes something will catch your eye soon enough. If you go to the store with a vague idea of what you want to buy, it’s up to you to meander around trying to narrow down your options whereas online you can search for something as broad as “electronics for teenagers” and be inundated with an abundance of options which you can then easily filter and narrow down in half the time it would take you at a traditional store. Since lots of online retailers even offer free or discounted shipping these days, online shopping is more affordable than ever.
But as with all things, there are some potential risks and downsides to online shopping, namely how to stay safe online. It’s one thing to connect with old childhood friends on Facebook for a quick chat, it’s another thing entirely to put in your personal information online. You have to enter your shipping and billing address, phone number, email, and credit card information when making purchases, which can make you vulnerable to online hackers, security breaches, and a host of malicious software like adware, malware, and viruses. There are ways you can protect yourself, though!
Below, we list a few ways to ensure that you are safe while conducting your shopping online:
- Thoroughly research the seller. You can do a quick Google search to see if the website you’re purchasing from has ever had security issues before. If it’s not a well known site, exercise caution as some hackers will set up dummy sites solely to steal information. By Googling the merchant and checking their website for a legitimate address and phone number you can ensure the business is reputable.
- Ensure the site is safe. There’s a quick way to do this: in your web browser’s address bar (where the URL is), you should see a closed padlock when you are entering your personal information. This is a security measure in place for e-commerce transactions.
- Safeguard your information. You may be filling out a form and suddenly you’re asked for your social security number or checking account number, but you’re only trying to purchase an iPad for your nephew. There is no reason you should need to be entering such personal information and this would be an immediate red flag. For extra safety, it is often best to use a credit card rather than a debit card, or in some cases you can even purchase a prepaid debit/credit card to use solely for online shopping purposes.
It is important to keep your computer safe even when you are not actively shopping online, though. Certain websites can infect your computer with viruses that in turn hack your passwords and personal information. This is why it is imperative to have some sort of anti-virus software on your computer, and we can even help by directing you to our Panda Security coupons. Another great anti-virus software option can be found through Webroot. Shopping online is a great option and you should not be deterred by the potential risks, as there are easy ways to keep yourself safe and ensure you have a painless, hassle-free, and convenient shopping experience.