According to a Statista report, e-commerce was responsible for about $2.3 trillion in sales in 2017 and that number is expected to grow to $4.5 trillion by 2021.
That should be evidence enough that more and more consumers are turning towards online shopping as their method of making purchases. If you’re part of the growing population who engages in online shopping, you’ll definitely want to ensure you’re staying safe while doing so.
Only shop on SSL encrypted sites
If you’re making a purchase from a website, ensure that it has SSL (secure sockets layer) installed. How will you know? To start, the website should begin with https:// and you should see a lock symbol before it.
If you want to increase your level of security, you can download a browser extension that will encrypt your connection to well-known sites for you and ensure that your information is being kept safe.
Ensure your shopping accounts are secure
While we all typically re-use passwords for every website and account we make online, it’s actually a major security risk to do so. If you want to ensure that the information you give to an e-commerce company stays secure, use a different password for each of your accounts.
Strong passwords are usually ones that consist of letters, symbols, and numbers and are hard to guess based on personal information that anybody could have access to (name, birthdate, address, etc.).
Keep track of your purchases
If you think back to the old days when you would have to balance your checkbook by hand, then you’ll understand the benefits of writing down every transaction you make.
Whether you decide to write down every online purchase in a notebook, on a computer, or even on your phone, keeping track of your transactions will help you remember what you purchased, for what amount, and the date of the transaction.
Don’t keep too much information on your smartphone
While it’s tempting to keep all your information (like passwords) on your smartphone somewhere, it’s relatively easy for cyber criminals to install malware onto your smartphone. This malware can potentially access your hidden information and take it for themselves.
Try to keep as little information as possible on your phone and store important information in an offline storage or cloud network. If you want to use your smartphone, check to see if the store has an app you can purchase from! Apps are often more secure and provide a much more limited level of access.
Use one computer for online purchases
If you can, dedicate one computer in your household to be used only for online shopping and other high-security tasks such as online banking or payments in general. Make sure this computer is virus-free and isn’t subject to attacks by phishing or spam, which means you shouldn’t use it for casual browsing.
It’s also recommended to use different emails for different purposes — for example, having one for private communication, one for online purchases, and one for subscriptions.
Don’t use public WiFi
If you aren’t safe, unprotected WiFi can create security risks. Hackers and cybercriminals can intercept your data and gain access to things such as passwords and banking information.
It is especially recommended never to make a purchase while connected to public WiFi, but in general, it’s a good rule of thumb to rely on a secured network or your own carrier’s data when browsing online.
The bottom line – You’re not alone
Maneuvering the world of online shopping can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep these simple tips in mind and you can save yourself a world of hassle. Be smart and always remain suspicious online.