Online Shopping Safety Tips

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If you are one of the millions who choose the convenience of online shopping during this busy holiday season, there are a few precautions you'll need to take to protect and secure your identity, personal and financial data from cyber thieves.

Check for HTTPS

Not all web pages are equally secure. Before entering any personal or payment information, make sure to look up at your browser bar. The URL should start with HTTPS, not HTTP. That one letter S on the end is the difference between a secure site and an unsecured site. Also look for the small lock icon in your address bar. This lock indicates that you have an SSL (secure sockets layer) connection. The icon is standard for most popular browsers, including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

Use Caution on Public WiFi

Whether you’re shopping on your laptop at the local coffee shop, or shopping from anywhere on your smartphone or tablet, there’s an increased chance you’ll be on an unfamiliar WiFi network. Only do window shopping on public WiFi networks, and save making purchases and entering credit card information for when you are on a known, secure WiFi network (such as your home).

Research Vendors and Apps

The Internet is filled with online stores, and while some are reputable, others are not so legitimate. When searching for the best deals, it’s tempting to make your purchase from the site offering the lowest price, but take a moment to research any vendors you’re not familiar with. Before you hand over your payment information, do a quick search for reviews of the vendor. Calculate the total cost of an item, including shipping and tax, when determining the lowest price.

Beware of Phishing and Other Scams

By now, most people know to keep an eye out for phishing scams: e-mails disguised as legitimate companies asking for payment or password information. But once in awhile one comes along that looks incredibly convincing, especially during the holiday season. To be safe, copy and paste all links into a fresh browser window instead of clicking on the hyperlink, check the originating email address and when in doubt, contact the company to verify the e-mail. As a general rule, legitimate companies will never ask for your private information over email or text message, including payment information, usernames, passwords, or social security number.

Use Strong Passwords

Sure, this is one of the most common online safety tips you hear, but it so important when banking and shopping online. For tips on creating a strong password, check out this article from PC World. Further, be sure to turn on the pass code on your phone or tablet. It’s an easy and important precaution, but only about half of Americans do it. It takes a few more seconds to access your device, but these devices often contain more valuable information than what’s in your wallet. If your phone or tablet is lost or stolen, anyone can access the wealth of data you have stored on your device.

Update Often

Many operating system and application updates address security issues, plugging holes and fixing errors that could be exploited by hackers. On your computer, update the operating system when prompted, and make sure you’re running the latest version of your Internet browser. For mobile devices, the routine is easier because the apps come through a central app store. You can see exactly what mobile apps need updating at a glance.

Use a Credit Card Instead of a Debit Card

Credit cards are a more secure online payment option than your debit card. The majority of credit cards offer purchase protection in case your card number is stolen, or if you make a payment at an online store that delivers a bad product or no product at all. While it’s a busy time of year, be sure to take an extra minute to review your statements, or even better, check your accounts online often. Should any of these security precautions fail, you’ll want to catch suspicious charges as soon as possible.

Even when taking all safety precautions when shopping online, it's still possible for your PC to get infected with malware or viruses. Unfortunately, the holiday season is busy time for hackers and scammers. If you think your PC has a virus, malware, or any type of security breach, call My Wire Guy at (916) 625-0141 or bring your device into our Rocklin location Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 6:00 pm.