Tips to staying safe while shopping online
As the holiday season approaches, you might be itching to start ( or have already started!) your gift shopping. There are many benefits to shopping online; it saves you time, money, and footwork when looking for deals. It’s very appealing to do all of your shopping from the comfort of your home and having the goods delivered right to your doorstep. The downside is that there is a risk with sharing your personal information online. Follow these 5 steps when online shopping this season to stay safe and protect yourself and your finances.
Use trusted sellers
Trust your gut when it comes to selecting where to purchase from online. Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Indigo etc are all very well known brands who will offer secure online shopping through their websites. If you are using a new retailer that you are unfamiliar with, research them! Look for third party reviews and ratings, google their name and see what comes up etc..
Make sure you are typing the store’s URL directly into the browser address bar rather than clicking on ads or search results- as it is very easy for fraudulent websites to trick you into thinking they are legit. If the website looks off, shady, or poorly designed- trust your instincts and go somewhere else. You might be disappointed at losing a possible deal, but it is not worth risking your personal information getting into the wrong hands.
Know the policies
Read through the website's policies including their privacy statement, billing, guarantee, and shipping policies. Familiarize yourself with how the company conducts business so there are no surprises later on.
Try to use only secure and private networks when transmitting personal or identifying information. While it is not preferable, you may use public wifi to make your purchases as long as you keep in mind a few things:
- Try not to use a public computer to make your purchases as you have no idea what software has been installed or who else might be connected.
- Use only well-known public hotspots. Walmart, McDonald’s, Chapters/Indigo, and Starbucks all have secure public hotspots, and keep in mind you always use those at your own risk.
- If you do use a public hotspot, be aware of ‘shoulder surfers’- those people who might be looking over your shoulder to read personal information off your screen.
Protect your personal information
It should go without saying that you should never give away sensitive information needlessly. Online retailers do not need to know your SIN number or birthdate for you to make purchases. It is generally best practice to give the least amount of information possible. It is also a good idea to avoid clicking on links in emails. Phishing is a common scamming practice by which emails will look like they are coming from legitimate sources but actually are only sent to retrieve your confidential informaiton such as passwords, account numbers, ID numbers etc...
Make sure payment pages have secure connections
Legit websites will use a secure protocol to encrypt your information. If you look in the address bar, the URL should start with HTTPS:// and have a little icon of lock next to it. HTTP:// is NOT a secure connection. By looking for this feature, you are ensuring a secure transfer of your personal information.
Even with these best practices, there will always be a risk when shopping online. However by staying vigilant and following these tips you can greatly minimize this risk and enjoy all of the perks that come with shopping online.
The Renwick Group has experience working with many different types of businesses and organizations providing skip-tracing, fraud investigations, WSIB support, legal team assistance, evidence gathering, employee background checks, and more. We also work with individuals who need help with personal matters. Call us at 1 (888) 722-9807 or visit our website for information