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Protecting Yourself When Shopping Online: 3 Quick Tips

By on 27 Jun, 2019

Twenty years ago, getting people to trust online shopping was a huge hurdle for ecommerce. Would-be buyers were afraid to provide credit card and other personal information online. The situation has changed dramatically. Today’s online shoppers think nothing of filling out forms and providing data to ecommerce sites, social media sites, and even in public forums. This transition from hyper-awareness to bold familiarity, coupled with the ever-increasing ability of thieves and swindlers to take advantage of our lapses, has created a serious situation.

Identity theft, romance scams, and fake emails are representative of the threats you can encounter online, but they are only examples. Online danger comes in all kinds of packages, from phishing schemes to bogus goods.

The only way to make absolutely sure your data is safe online is to stop using the internet. For most of us, though, the benefits of going online far outweigh the risks – if we’re smart about what we do there. It’s like driving a car: you know you could get in an accident, but that doesn’t stop you from driving to the grocery store.

Here are some of the steps you can take to protect yourself when shopping online.

1. Get a robust antivirus program.

No tool is perfect, but a robust antivirus program is an essential. You should never go online without that first and persistent line of defence. Check your machine now to make sure you have an antivirus program installed, and that it is turned on and updated. Once you’ve determined you have antivirus and it’s turned on, check to be sure it’s updated. Then check to be sure the options are set to keep the software updated automatically. Rinse and repeat. Get in the habit of checking your antivirus program often.

2. Know what you’re clicking on.

Don’t risk clicking on risky links. Always hover to check that a link is going to a familiar, friendly website you trust. Further, just as you would be careful about where you go in an unfamiliar city, pay attention to the neighbourhood when you’re surfing the web. If you enter a site and get a pop-up wanting you to click a link, stop and close the window, then clear your cache. For maximum safety, follow that by closing the browser, then restarting your computer. Never click a link you’re unsure of, regardless of what the link says.

3. Be careful of where you leave your digital footprints.

Every post you make on social media, every website you visit, and every form you enter information into can be a collection point for thieves and scoundrels. If they can collect enough personal data from your posts, they may be able to ask for a password reset and access your secure locations. Identity thieves and neighbourhood break-in artists love social media. You tell them everything they want to know there – including when your home is going to be vacant for an extended period, your mother’s maiden name, and the make of your first automobile. How can you protect yourself? That’s easy: stop doing that.

Remember: it may feel like just you and your computer are there when you’re online, but that’s a false sense of security. Don’t fall for it.

To learn more, read CouponChief’s online shopping safety guide: