Shopping is almost like a ritual for some people. And I’m not just talking about the regular brick and mortar stores.
When I say shopping, in this digital era, I also mean online shopping. We are living in the age of digital buying.
1. Never give away your Social Security Number or sensitive details
It’s understandable that a shopping site needs some of your personal information such as your name, contact number, email address, and billing information. Beyond payment options, these companies use this information to send you future deals and offers. But any site that asks you for anything more than that, like your Social Security Number, is not a legitimate one. Some things always need to be kept to yourself. This is true for physical stores as well. Many of these sites will make you feel that it’s the part of their normal registration process. But it’s not. Make sure you don’t end up giving out details that aren’t necessary.
2. Prefer an “HTTPS” in the URL of the site over an “HTTP”
You need to look for sites that have an added “S” in the URL to ensure security. This is where the importance of a Secured Sockets Layer (SSL) comes into play.
So, what is SSL?
Here’s a word about SSL from SSL2BUY:
SSL is basically what protects your personal and sensitive information as it travels from one network to another across the world. It keeps the information encrypted so that only the person it is sent to can read it.
What happens with other sites is that the information you send, which includes your credit card information, usernames, and passwords, can be read by any system in between you and the server, as it travels through the network.
On the other hand, if a website is encrypted with an SSL certificate, your information is protected from potential hackers and cyber criminals.
Websites that use SSL certificates either have a closed lock or an unbroken key at the bottom.
Sites that are protected with an EV SSL certificate (or an Extended Validation) have a padlock and a green address bar when opened on most browsers.
Now you know what to look for in a good shopping site.
If you are using the Chrome browser, you can use the HTTPS Everywhere addon to enforce secure connections with every site you browse.
3. Use credit cards more than debit cards
As rightly said by the popular financial blog ,“With a credit card, the card issuer must fight to get his money back. With a debit card, you must fight to get your money back.”
When you use a debit card, instead of a credit card, you give out information which allows a possible cyber criminal direct access to your bank account. When you use a credit card, you are using the card issuer’s money. It’s easier to take protective measures and get a new card issued in the case of fraudulent activity on your credit card.
If you are paranoid about your security & shopping from an unreliable or new site, you can use PayPal, PayTM, or any other such payment method which doesn’t require you to give out your credit card details. The only downside is you might end up paying an extra 1-2%.
4. Use a separate email address for shopping
When you shop online, you need to provide your email address.
My advice is to maintain a separate account just for online shopping. This gives you two advantages:
- If that site ever gets hacked or is compromised in some way, none of your important personal information (which is present in your regular email) is at risk.
- All the promotional and marketing emails go into that account, which lets you save a lot of email space.
Speaking of email, beware of fraud emails trying to steal your info.
5. Use different passwords for all of your accounts
This is more of a cliché thing to say, but it’s important that you maintain different passwords for various accounts.
Otherwise, when one of your accounts gets hacked by a criminal, it will become a walkover for the rest of your accounts to be compromised. So make sure you have at least 2 or 3 different passwords. You can go ahead and write them down somewhere, as long as they are in a safe and secure place.
If you are a power internet user, make sure you use a password manager.
6. Use several layers of security
When you see two and three-step authentication processes for shopping sites, do not skip them.
They add an extra layer of security to your account, and it makes it harder for hackers to get access.
You need to do this even if it means going through an extra step while you are hurriedly trying to purchase something. You will not want to have a hacker steal your information because you didn’t want to spend an extra 30 seconds ensuring your security.