It is that time of the year again, and holiday season usually means shopping for gifts. If you are leading a busy lifestyle, wasting hours in a shopping mall, trying to find a present is not something you can afford. Instead, you might turn to online shopping. It could save you loads of time and money, and you are more likely to find something the receiver will like.
So, you ready your card, find something on a shopping website, and end up purchasing it for little money due to a great deal you were offered. So far so good. Until you notice that your credit card details have been stolen. You start wondering how it happened, and suddenly remember the deal that you thought was too good to be true. That is because it was. Your might have entered a bogus website, did not notice the signs that it is not legitimate, and provided malicious people with your card details. This would be a nightmare scenario, but unfortunately, it is not an uncommon one. Holiday season is a time when people are looking for great deals, and scammers take advantage of that. If you want your holiday season to remain pleasant, you might want to take these few safe online shopping tips into account.
Do not use public WiFi
Using public WiFi that can be accessed by many people poses certain dangers. It is very vulnerable to attack, and even if it is password protected, if anyone can access it, you might want to stay away from it. If you must use it, at least avoid logging into websites, and never put in your banking information. On public WiFi, someone could be spying on you, and thus could acquire your card details. So if you are trying to shop online, just save the link, and buy the item when you are on secure WiFi. If you do not want someone else buying presents with your money, never buy anything on public WiFi. Unless you are using a VPN, which would prevent someone from spying on you, but that is a whole different topic.
Be skeptical of amazing deals
Everyone loves discounts and great deals that some online shops offer, and especially so during the holiday season. Christmas is already expensive enough, and those deals might save someone precious money. So of course, people are going to look for them. And scammers know this. Be careful when browsing unknown online stores and be skeptical of every deal you encounter, especially ones that will expire soon. Displaying the expiration date pressures users into acting fast, they might rush to get the deal and forget about caution. Remember, if something is too good to be true, it probably is.
Avoid unsafe websites
When you are shopping online, pay attention to the website you are browsing. There are plenty of malicious sites pretending to be legitimate stores, more so this time around, so be especially careful. If you have never heard of the website, look into it using a trustworthy search engine. Check the URL for unsafe connections, and stick to stores that have URLs starting with ‘https’ instead of just ‘http’. If the connection is not secure, the information you put in might be seen by other parties.
Keep your accounts safe
Do not wait to learn from your mistakes, and instead, learn from others’. If an account holds sensitive information, secure it with a strong password and two-factor authentication, if possible. There are many cases where hackers were able to access an account simply because the owner did not bother to create a difficult password, and instead used ‘123456’, ‘qwerty’, or the classic ‘password’. Your online bank, your Amazon/eBay accounts, etc., use complex passwords to protect them and never reveal them to anyone, even if you get a call from your bank asking for credentials. No legitimate service will ever ask for your password. And remember, you should not use the same password twice, especially with accounts that hold sensitive information. If you have a difficult time keeping track of all your passwords, use a password manager.
Keep track of your statements
The sooner you notice that someone stole your credit card information or that you were scammed, the better. Regularly check your bank statements for weird transactions, or ones that you do not recall making. We also recommend comparing your bank statements with your purchase records. If you notice differences, inform your bank immediately.
Becoming a victim fraud or having your credit card details stolen is quite easy. All it takes is not being careful one time, and you could be stuck in that nightmare scenario. So take what you just read seriously and, you might prevent yourself from becoming a victim.