6 Tips for Online Shoppers

6 Ways to Defend Your Privacy
While Shopping Online

Online shopping is pretty convenient. No long lines at the checkout counter. No parking lot madness to navigate. Nearly unlimited product selection. Often, you can even get better deals than brick-and-mortar stores are able to offer.

Make sure your online shopping is secure

In 2013, 92% of holiday shoppers took to the Internet to research gifts and/or make purchases. In fact, online shopping sales were expected to reach at least $82 billion during the holiday season alone. But there’s a trade-off. Shopping online could expose your personal financial data to any number of government snoops or rogue hackers who want your information.

Follow these steps to minimize your risk, and maximize your online shopping privacy.

  1. Password-Protect Your Network

    • If you have a Wi-Fi connection at home, it should be protected with a password. Unprotected Wi-Fi connections are vulnerable to attack. Consult the manual that came with your router for specific instructions on how to set up your own password. Remember, if you don’t have to enter a password, neither do the bad guys. (Pro Tip – Do all of your shopping at home on your own connection. Never enter personal information while online via a public internet connection.)
  2. Update Your Browser

    • Your web browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome, etc.) is what enables you to surf the web. But how long has it been since you updated to the newest version? If your browser is out of date, it could contain security vulnerabilities which could expose your network, and your information, to a number of threats. Not sure you have the newest version? Visit www.whatbrowser.org to see for free.
  3. Shop on Secure Sites

    • Only shop on sites that have a URL that begin with ‘https.’ The “S” stands for “secure,” and websites enabled with this feature are encrypted with digital certificates that help keep your information private. Never give your personal information to a website that doesn’t have this feature. Want maximum security, automatically? Consider downloading HTTPS Everywhere. You can learn more by visiting https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere.
  4. Only Give ‘Required’ Information at Checkout

    • There’s no reason an online purchase should require your social security number. Ever. Usually, the fields required in order to complete a purchase are identified in red, or with an asterisk. Make it a habit of only filling out what’s required.
  5. Use a Credit Card

    • By law, you can only be held responsible for $50 of fraudulent charges made on a credit card in your name if you report the misuse within 60 days. If you use a debit card, you could be liable for up to $500 if you don’t report the fraudulent charges within TWO days. To better protect yourself, always use a credit card, not a debit card, when purchasing something online.
  6. Print/Save Receipts & Compare to Your Credit Card Statements

    • Just like your regular purchases at brick-and-mortar stores, online transactions yield receipts. Make sure you keep these in a safe place, and check them against your statements as soon as possible.