4 Steps to Stay Safe While Shopping Online

Planning to get a head start on your holiday shopping this year? Here are four things you need to know to stay safe while shopping online.

Do Business With Reputable Companies

When shopping online, we recommend sticking with companies you already know and trust. That said, new companies are born every day – so before clicking “buy,” confirm that the company takes security seriously. Make sure the website url begins with “https” rather than “http.” The extra “s” indicates an added level of security and demonstrates that communications between the website and your browser are encrypted. If the website isn’t “https” secure, don’t provide your credit card information.

Don’t Shop on Public Wi-Fi

Even when shopping online with major companies that are sure to use “https,” never make purchases on a public Wi-Fi connection. These networks are risky for a few reasons. First, it’s hard to be sure that others aren’t scanning the network’s activity and collecting users’ personal or financial information. Second, even on a seemingly trustworthy public Wi-Fi network such as a cafe or hotel connection, it’s possible that the network is actually being run by a malicious entity and named after a popular restaurant or store nearby. The best course of action is to ALWAYS assume that public Wi-Fi is insecure. Never enter payment information, bank account details, or anything else you wouldn’t want in the hands of a stranger.

Credit or Debit?

When shopping online, always use your credit card over a debit card if possible. In the unfortunate event your information is stolen, most credit cards provide two important benefits: first, many limit the amount of money for which you are responsible. Second, unlike debit cards, they don’t directly link to your financial accounts. Another great solution is to use payment processors such as PayPal, many of which offer specific benefits and protections for the consumer.

Don’t Save Your Information

No matter how you buy, where you shop, or what you use to purchase, we recommend you never ask a website to remember your personal information. Although it’s tempting and incredibly convenient, it’s ultimately not worth the risk. Take the time to enter your payment details with every transaction. Data breaches happen at companies every day, and if the company you are shopping with has one, you could lose personal information. With just a few extra minutes of effort, you will minimize your risk of information theft and provide peace of mind.

Happy (and safe) shopping!