70 percent of Americans plan to shop online this season. If this percentage includes yours truly, then hold onto your laptops: you may be at risk. What could possibly be dangerous about skipping the crowded parking lots and long lines of the mall as you shop in comfort from your couch? Good question. Last year, more than 11.6 million adults in the U.S. were victims of identity fraud. Browse the internet more safe and smartly by following our two main rules of online shopping. This is an article sponsored by Gather - www.gatheronline.com
- Shop on established websites-e.g., well-known retailers like Overstock.com and Amazon.com-as they may have stronger security measures in place.
- Do your research. Looking to purchase the perfect gift from a website you’ve never heard of? Run the company name or URL through a reputable search engine like Google, AOL, Bing, or Yahoo, and look for reviews that mention the site’s order placement and payment process. Popular review sites like Epinions.com can be helpful for finding red flags.
Some easy to follow steps which can ensure you to feel an experience of safe online shopping are as follows.1
1. Spot A Safe Website: Look for key signs of a Website’s credibility before making a purchase. Make sure the site has SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption-the URL should start with “https” and not just “http”. Next, search for seals of approval from trusted organizations that verify a Website’s credentials, such as VeriSign, Norton, Truste, WebTrust, or ESRB. These seals can usually be found at the top or bottom of a Web page.
2. Protect Your Information: In the past 12 months, 71 million Americans, or 72 percent of online adults, have been victims of cybercrime. Sharing information selectively may save you from dealing with fraudulent charges.
3. Strong Passwords:
When you must create an account and come up with a new password, use a mix of capital and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Stay away from easy-to-guess passwords; instead go with a phrase or a series of random letters and numbers. If you have so many passwords and logins you can’t possibly keep track of them all, try using password management software. Norton ID Safe can store all your passwords in one secure location so that don’t have to click “forgot password” and go through ten steps every time you log into a Website.
4. Your Payment Information:
When you buy something online, most retailers ask for your name, address, phone number, payment information, and shipping address. Never allow them to save your payment information. Maybe it seems convenient to have your payment information on hand for your next purchase, but if that site has a security breach, your credit card could be compromised. Those few extra minutes typing your credit card numbers for each transaction helps reduce this risk and could save you hours, days, or even weeks fighting fraudulent charges, not to mention the money you might not get back.
5. Public WiFi: Public WiFi is more accessible than ever these days, and if you’re connecting your choice browsing device to it, you could be putting yourself in hacker’s way. Hackers make their living on unencrypted WiFi connections at hotels, coffee shops, libraries, airports, etc.-and, yes, they can even infiltrate those WiFi connections that require a password. For a WiFi connection to be truly safe, it needs to be encrypted. And unless you have the expertise to ensure your connection is, in fact, encrypted, you have to assume it is not and any information you send or receive can be hacked (by that friendly person innocently sipping a latte at the table next to you).
Okay, enough with the identity theft stuff that’s threatening to steal your holiday spirit-pass the eggnog! Now that you’ve given yourself the gift of knowing how to shop online more securely, you’re ready to enjoy a safe, happy, hacker-free holiday. You certainly deserve it. Cheers