The holidays are upon us, and today, many people prefer to do their shopping online, rather than braving parking, long lines, and the hassle of malls and department stores.
United States consumers recently contributed to a greater than 32% year-over-year increase in online retail purchases. If you’re going to shop online for the holidays or any other time of the year, it’s important that you look after your safety and security.
This way, you won’t be at risk for cyber threats, identity theft, and bank fraud. The points below will help you out with any online purchases that you make, so keep reading below.
Always Use Strong Passwords for the Sites You Shop With
Even with so much technology around to prevent threats, few protections are as useful as a good old-fashioned strong password. The best type of password that you can use today includes several characters, uppercase, and lowercase, with symbols and numbers.
It’s even better if these strong passwords don’t consist of actual words that people can guess. Whether you’re logging into Amazon or any other site, the best thing you can do is create passwords that don’t allow people to log in and make purchases in your name.
Take Advantage of Two-Factor Authentication
Two-Factor authentication is an excellent one-two punch to go along with your strong password.
This security measure involves getting an alert sent to your mobile device or e-mail address to confirm that you’re making a purchase. You will be sent a code, which you must punch into the website where shopping is taking place.
Using two-factor authentication verifies that it’s you that is making the purchase, and not someone pretending to be you.
Look Into Security Certificates
Make certain that the website has an SSL certificate to know that they take all proper precautions.
These are digital certificates that provide added measures of security for web users and shoppers. It verifies that the site is authentic and that it hasn’t been cloned. SSL acts as a digital “handshake” of sorts, between the website and its server.
You can tell that a website is using an SSL certificate when it has an “HTTPS” extension rather than just “HTTP”. Always check the address box of your browser to make certain, particularly when you are about to punch in payment information.
Shop With Sites That Are Reputable and Trustworthy
Never shop with an online business unless it is a secure website that several people can vouch for.
A strong reputation goes a long way and will help reduce a great deal of your anxiety and apprehension. When in doubt, you can check out some online reviews or look into Consumer Reports, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and other organizations.
If a site seems suspicious, a quick Google search will likely turn up poor reviews or the fact that it is a scam site. Never give any information unless you have verified that the site is trustworthy.
Verify Your Credit Card Number and Security Code
Make sure that any site you shop with is protective of your credit card information. When you add one to your wallet, it should star out every digit of the card except for the last four.
Any site that you shop with will also ask you to verify the three digits on the back of your card, which corresponds with a security code. Using these last three digits is a last line of defense in case anyone has logged into your account or otherwise gotten your credit card number.
Sites don’t save these security codes, so you can only get it if you have the physical card in your hands.
Set Up Mobile Alerts With Your Bank
It’s important that you also choose a bank that has security measures in place. Choose banks that are tech-savvy and that allow you to prevent breaches from happening.
Any bank that you decide to do business with should have mobile apps that have strong security protocols and that give you up-to-the-moment information. These apps will also send you alerts that will let you know as soon as a purchase is made.
This way, you will know the moment an unlawful purchase was made and can confirm whether it was you or not.
For instance, you can get alerts every time your Farmers rewards Visa card is used on any online store.
Many banks will also allow you to turn your debit or credit card off via the app if you think anything suspicious has occurred.
Take Advantage of Facial Recognition for Mobile Purchases
Smartphones today also come with facial recognition software. You can use this software as a password to sign off on any purchases.
This is important because someone that steals or finds your phone won’t be able to make fraudulent purchases. After a few failed attempts at facial recognition, the phone will lock itself and require a password before it can be opened back up.
Make Sure You Have a Strong Data Connection and Secure Internet
Never make purchases from anything but a strong and secure internet connection. Do business with an internet provider that has the best signal, and that takes security measures seriously.
Avoid making purchases from public places, such as when logged onto a coffee shop’s Wi-Fi.
Use Discretion With Your Online Purchases
If you are going to make online purchases, the tips in this article will serve you well. Start here so that you can protect yourself while still shopping to your heart’s content.
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