Did you know, according to Lab 42, 73% of Americans do at least half of their shopping online? As eMarketer writes, it is for this reason that in 2012 online sales broke $1 trillion for the first time. The fact is that online shopping is incredibly convenient. You never have to leave your home and can often find whatever you are looking for.
The problem is that cyber-criminals know how much people love to shop online and are looking to take advantage of that. According to the FBI’s “2012 Internet Crime Report”, there were almost 290,000 cyber-crimes in 2012 accounting for over $525 million in losses. If you want to avoid adding to those numbers, here are five tips for safe online shopping.
- Update Your Browser
Whatever browser you are using, be it Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer, the fact is that as time goes by cyber-criminals find ways to use holes in programming to get at your personal information. Browser providers are aware of this and frequently update their software to keep you protected. As PCWorld writes, keep your browsers up to date to take advantage of their newest defenses.
- Identity Theft Protection
MSN Money writes that many credit card companies offer identity theft protection to all of their cardholders. Take advantage of these programs if they are available to you. They are often cheap or free and can save you a lot of heartache. The fact is that even the best internet shopping tips may not save you from a skilled criminal. It is far better to be prepared.
- Stop Using a Card
When online shopping cards are the number one way Americans pay. The problem? Your personal information is flying all over the internet just waiting for someone to snatch it. A good alternative to online shopping card payments is to pay using an intermediary service like Paypal. Paypal stores your information under layers of highly advanced encryption. When you are online shopping card transactions require you to put in all of your information. Paypal only asks for an account and password. It is far safer.
- Stick to What You Know
If you have shopped at a website before and have never had any trouble with information theft, it is likely you can continue to do so without worry. As PC Mag writes, everyone knows that sites like Amazon and Walmart are legitimate. If they have the same deals as others, why not stick with them?
- Fortify Your Walls
The most important of all tips for secure internet shopping is to keep your anti-virus and firewall definitions up to date. If they are kept current, they will alert you when you are visiting a site that is known for crime. Should malicious software, like a keylogger, make its way to your system, this software can find and kill it, according to ABC News.
Many people ask “is it secure to shop online?”. The honest answer to that question is “it depends”. However, by making use of these five tips you can change that answer to “yes”. What are you waiting for? Protect yourself right away.