Online shopping is on the rise. There is no doubt about that. Personally, I have forgotten where most of my favourite shopping malls used to be. A lot of people all over the world are turning to online shopping and the ecommerce sector is witnessing massive growth.
The recent rampant shutdown of shopping malls in the US shows just how much ecommerce is elbowing traditional shopping out of business.
To put things into perspective, here are some surprising ecommerce stats.
• 1.92 billion people globally shopped online in 2019. 224 million of those people were Americans.
• 51% of Americans prefer to shop online as opposed to offline.
• Global Ecommerce sales hit $3 trillion in 2019.
• For every 10 people in America, 8 are online shoppers.
• 23% of Americans say they shopped more online in 2018, and 11% say they increased their online shopping in 2019
As you can see from the stats above, most shoppers are moving online and so are businesses.
But as we have seen previously, cyber criminals take advantage of such a humongous growth to achieve their goals. So how do you ensure you stay safe as you shop online?
Here are 10 tips to get you started.
1. Never use your Debit Card
Debit cards are usually linked to our bank accounts. That means that the risk of losing your money is high if the wrong person gets hold of your information.
That is why it is advisable to never use your debit card when shopping online. Instead, you can use PayPal and credit cards since they are more protected and you will suffer less damage if your credit card number is stolen.
2. Only Use Secure Sites When Shopping Online
Nowadays there are a lot of online stores but a good percentage of them are not secure. How to you know if a site is secure or not? It’s simple. Just check the site address/url and make sure that it uses https instead of just http. The ‘s’ at the end of http stands for secure and it means that the site is safe to use. If the ‘s’ is missing, you should look for an alternative online shopping site.
Providing financial information over insecure sites is very risky and something you should avoid at all costs.
3. Update Your Software When Asked To
Many online shoppers think software updates is a bother but is actually a crucial step steps protecting yourself online. When a site asks you to update your software it means that they are trying to improve their security measures and largely for your own benefit.
I know, it is often inconveniencing especially when you are in the middle of something important but it is worth your time.
4. Avoid Email Scams
As mentioned earlier, scammers are capitalizing on the ecommerce popularity to con people. This is especially very rampant during the holidays when the shopping spree is at maximum.
You will likely receive a lot of emails in the name of offers and promotions. They will send you links which when clicked on can infect your computer or phone with viruses and malware that can be used to steal personal information.
To be safe, never click on this links. If they come from sites or people you have never interacted with, it is better to avoid them.
5. Don’t Click on Catchy Links on Social Media
If you are using any kind of social media platforms, chances are you see a lot of exciting shopping offers. You may succeed in avoiding email scams but you should also be weary of social media links promoting offers that are too good to be true.
If you think the offer may be legit, you should do some background research to find out if it really exists before clicking on the link.
6. Beef Up Your Passwords
I know this one sounds like a cliché, but only for a good reason. The importance of a strong password cannot be emphasized enough. You private information is not really private if you don’t use unique passwords.
A password is like the gatekeeper to your private information. The stronger it is, the more secure you are. If you don’t trust yourself to whip up a strong password, you can always use password generators.
7. Never Give More Info Than Needed
Some online shopping sites will ask for a lot of unnecessary information. If you don’t think a piece of information is crucial to completing your purchase, you should withhold it.
If they need your phone number or address but is optional, you should skip and provide only the information that really matters. You don’t want to make it too easy for people to steal your identity in case of a data breach.
8. Don’t Use Public Networks When Shopping
It is hard to resist the temptation to use a free public hotspot. Buying data is expensive and taking advantage of public Wi-Fi is convenience. But when it comes to shopping online, you should avoid public hotspots.
These networks are usually not secure and possess a great risk to your online security. When you shop online over public Wi-Fi and log in to PayPal or enter you bank information, you are literally begging hackers to mess with your accounts.
9. Be Careful When Downloading Shopping Apps
We have previously looked at why it is important to be vigilant when downloading mobile applications. The same applies to shopping apps. There are a lot of fake apps posing as those from credible shopping sites.
If you end up downloading these apps you risk your personal information being stolen and misused. Only download apps from credible platforms like the Google Play Store and ensure that they are original ones.
10. Put It on Lockdown
Online shopping is very convenient. You can do it anywhere using any device. But that also means, you will be leaving a lot of traces behind. If you for instance use office computer to shop and forget to log out, you become prey to identity thieves.
First of all, make sure that every device you use to shop has the latest software. Second, see to it that all your devices are secured with passcodes and never use public computers to shop.
I hope the above tips will help you have a better and more secure shopping experience.