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Tips To Shop Online Safely

22nd March 2019

Online shopping has become a regular occurrence for most of us. Whether it be ordering a new outfit for an upcoming event, your weekly grocery shop so it gets delivered straight to your door, or something you could easily purchase from a local store but would mean you having to leave the house on a miserable day!

Buyers have access to almost anything online, with the ability to compare prices across a practically unlimited choice of items, so long as they have an internet connection.

Unfortunately, as online shopping has got more and more popular, it has become a feeding ground for hackers. Despite companies trying their best to ensure their websites and payment portals are as safe as possible, the number of people trying to scam you online is ever increasing.

Here are a few handy tips to help keep you safe online:

1. Buy From Familiar Websites

Wherever possible, purchase through a trusted website, one that is well known and a company that you are familiar with.

If you are bargain hunting and a less familiar website is offering you an amazing deal then check out the website, TrustPilot, for their review of the site. Or, check their social media to see how active the company is and how long they’ve been around.

Also, beware of misspellings within the URL, or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example).

2. Is The Website Secure?

Never put your card details into a website that is unsecure. You can check this by looking for the following signs:

• Padlock Symbol – There should be a padlock in the address bar next to the website address

• Website address – Make sure the website URL begins with HTTPS rather than HTTP. The ‘S’ shows the website has an additional layer of security and that any communication between the website and your browser is encrypted

• Valid certificate – If you click on the padlock symbol, you should see information on the site certificate which will tell you who has registered the site. If there are any warnings about a certificate, avoid the website.

3. Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi To Shop

Most Wi-Fi hotspots won’t encrypt your data. This applies to any device you connect to an unknown Wi-Fi network whether it be your phone, tablet or laptop.

Any information you send through the internet can be intercepted by a hacker with the right software. If you are unsure of how safe a network is, wait until you are connected to a network you know before sharing any personal data that could put you at risk of fraud.

If you must use unknown networks frequently it may be worth using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which can provide you with an additional level of security online.

4. Don’t Save Your Information

It may be tempting to ask a website to store your payment information for next time, but it can increase the risk of your details being stolen.

Unfortunately, data breaches happen all too frequently, and if the company you have allowed to store your card details has a breach, then you are at severe risk of being a victim of fraud.

It is far safer to input payment information each time you shop.

5. Online Security

Make sure you frequently take the time to ensure your software and anti-virus are up to date. The updates that are released often contain important changes as a result of fresh threats that have been encountered. Therefore, if you have not completed your updates, you are not fully protected.

Make sure you choose strong passwords for all online accounts. Try not to use the same password for all your logins, as if you are hacked it will mean they have the password for all your accounts rather than limiting it to just one.

The Reality Is

You can use all these checks but potentially still fall foul to a fraudster due to the amount of information we are now sharing and storing online.

Ultimately, you need to trust your instinct and if a website doesn’t feel right then don’t put your personal details into it.

Make sure you check your bank statements on a regular basis. We would all notice a large chunk of money being taken from our account, but would we notice a few pounds coming out regularly?

If you notice anything at all suspicious then contact your Bank or Card provider as soon as possible.

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