While online shopping is great for finding exactly what you need, you still need to remember that cybercrime is a major problem and that you need to be careful of where you plug in your financial information. Here are some best practices that can help to keep you safe this holiday season while bargain-hunting.
Stick to What You Know
Which site would you trust more with your financial information: a well-known online retailer like Amazon or a small obscure manufacturing plant somewhere halfway across the world? Even if the perfect gift takes some work to find, it’s important that you don’t invest in the wrong seller. Large organizations like Amazon and Walmart have far too much to lose to be lousy with their customers’ information, and as such, they take measures to protect against cybercrime and identity theft. Plus, they have the capital to invest in such an endeavor, meaning that they can easily afford to grant proper security to their users (not to mention it’s often required).
Small sites don’t necessarily have these resources lying around, so they may wind up both ripping you off and leaking your credentials to hackers.
Still, it’s important to keep a close watch on the address bar for any page where you’re asked to input financial or personal information. Make sure that the site uses the correct domain, and that the product you’re paying for comes from a verified and trustworthy source. It’s easy for hackers to make fake sites to mislead unwary shoppers.
Look for the Padlock
While you’re checking out the URL, take a closer look at it. Does it begin with HTTPS? This signifies that the URL has additional security protocol, making it more secure to add your credit card information or personal details to a form. You’ll also notice that there’s a padlock icon somewhere in the address bar.
Basically, if you’re going to input any financial information at all into a website, you should check to ensure that it’s both encrypted and legitimate. Sites that don’t have the green padlock are more likely to have their data stolen while it’s in transit, so you want to avoid sites like these.
Be Mindful When Mobile
Smartphones make it easier than ever to do your shopping from anywhere in the world. However, you need to be careful about connecting to a Wi-Fi network while out and about. Public Wi-Fi is known to be less secure, so you want to be extra cautious that your activity isn’t being monitored and that your data isn’t being stolen. You never know when a hacker might be using a public Wi-Fi connection to exploit the holiday season.