Want to enjoy an affordable yet secure online shopping experience? Simply adopt a few safety measures while you are shopping online and protect yourself from falling prey to fraudulent discount deals and online retailers.
Here's what you should look for while shopping online:
Make sure your information is being encrypted.
The information is encrypted if the URL begins "https:" instead of "http:" and a padlock icon. If this padlock is closed, the information is encrypted. The location of the icon varies by browser; for e.g., it may be to the right of the address bar or at the bottom of the window. Some fraudsters try to trick users by adding a fake padlock icon, so make sure that the icon is in the appropriate location for your browser.
Use virtual cards
You can get virtual cards, or single-use card numbers, that can be used at an online store. Virtual cards use a randomly generated substitute account number in place of your actual card number. With this service, you never need to give out your real card number online. Using one-time card number would remove any possibility of someone reusing the stolen information.
Protect your privacy
Terms and Conditions
Probably one of the most important step that has been ignored by many e-shoppers, even the regular ones as well. Majority of us do not pay attention to the policies or the "Terms & Conditions" mentioned in the website; we simply click "I Agree" and continue with our shopping. Why is it necessary to read the website policies? There are online shopping websites that share your personal information with third-parties; unaware of this fact we might click “I Agree” and fall victim of various phishing attacks.
Be wary of emails requesting information
Attackers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information. Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email. Do not provide sensitive information through email, and use caution when clicking on links in email messages.
Beware of clicking on suspicious offers
You may be getting a lot of offers via e-mail especially during the holiday season. While some are legitimate offers, some offers will come from cyber criminals trying to get you to download some rogue application or send you to a fake link leading to a site that appears to be a real shopping site. The best way to protect is to not click any links. Instead, type in the URL of the site you want to go to in your address bar. Also, be careful to spell the URL correctly. Improper spelling may take you to a rogue site which attempts to mimic the site you intended to visit.
Install Anti-virus Software
Anti-virus software is designed to identify, neutralize and eradicate viruses that can harm your computer, destroy your data, or exploit vulnerabilities that give spammers and fraudsters' access to your accounts and personal data. Choose a good quality, anti-virus program and be careful when you download a program and make sure it is from a reputable site that you trust or go to the manufacturer's website. To keep your anti-virus software effective, update it on regular basis.
Keep Your Passwords Secret
Some online stores may require you to register with them via a user name and password before buying. Online passwords, including your 'Verified by Visa' password or 'MasterCard SecureCode', should be kept secret from outside parties the same way you protect your ATM PIN (Personal Identification Number).
Never Send Payment Information via EmailInformation that travels over the Internet (such as email) is not fully protected from being read by outside parties. Most reputable merchant sites use encryption technologies that will protect your private data from being accessed by others as you conduct an online transaction.
Don't Fall for "Phishing" Messages
Identity thieves send massive numbers of emails to Internet users that ask them to update the account information for their banks, credit cards, online payment service, or popular shopping sites. The email may state that your account information has expired, been compromised or lost and that you need to immediately resend it to the company. Do not fall for them. Do not reply to such mails.
Shop at Authentic Websites
Do business with companies you already know. If the company is unfamiliar, do your homework before buying their products. If you decide to buy something from an unknown company, start out with an inexpensive order to learn if the company is trustworthy.
Check Your Debit / Credit Card Transactions Statement
In almost all cases, discovering fraudulent charges early will lessen the impact of the problem. In fact, financial institutions usually absorb the charges if they’re reported within a few days. So check often and know the liability limits used by your debit/credit card provider. Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.
Keep Good Records
Make sure to print or save electronically any records related to your online transactions. This will help you keep track of shipping dates, shipping and handling fees, and other details of your transactions, and will be helpful for any arbitration.
Get the Details
Check for expected delivery dates, shipping and handling fees, warranties, return policies, and other important information. Look for an email address to write to (or a phone number to call) if you have a question, a problem, or if you need help. Beware of extreme discounts or "too good to be true deals".