As the world changes, we use our computers and mobile phones to shop online from the safety and convenience of our homes. From groceries to clothing to electronics, there’s nothing we can’t find on the Internet. And when we see steep discounts online, we can’t help but take our credit cards.
Although there are many advantages to online shopping, the practice also comes with more risks than shopping physically at your brick-and-mortar store. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), more online shoppers get scammed by cybercriminals every year. They say that 80.5 percent of consumers reported losing money to a purchasing scam in 2020 compared to 71.2% in 2015.
To shop safely, you need the right cybersecurity software and the right approach to online shopping:
#1 Use the best Anti-Malware Tools
Many hackers use malicious software like viruses, spyware, etc., to infect your computer and get your private details to commit financial crimes. Use top anti-malware software to stay safe. Like the one from Malwarebytes, good anti-malware tools use artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer real-time protection against online scams, infected sites, malicious links, and phishing scams.
#2 Subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Data suggest that more people use VPNs since the pandemic began, and it’s easy to see why. A VPN encrypts your data and masks your IP address, protecting you from hackers, marketers, and other nosy people on the Internet.
Of course, a good VPN service offers many other advantages too. You can use a VPN to take advantage of shopping deals limited to your geographical location because it bypasses geo-blocks. If you’re travelling, you can shop safely on a public network that’s been secured by a VPN. With a VPN, you can also safely use ecommerce platforms like PayPal in countries where access is restricted.
Please learn more about how to use a VPN to shop safely online to protect your financial data from thieves on the Internet. Of course, you must avoid free VPNs because they’re often the source of malware infections. What’s more, many free VPNs have been caught spying on users and throttling their Internet connection for financial gain.
#3 Stay Cautious Online
Even with the most advanced antivirus software and a good VPN service, you’re not entirely secure unless you follow sensible practices. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:
- If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of incredible deals sent to your email as they may be fraudulent links.
- Watch out for fake shopping websites. Many scammers create fraudulent websites designed to trick you into submitting your credit card information and personal details.
- Examine the URL of a website to ensure it starts with “HTTPS” and features a little padlock sign. However, many sophisticated fake websites can also be SSL certified, so look for other signs like spelling and grammatical mistakes on the shopping platform.
- Only pay with credit cards and avoid paying with your debit card online. Your debit card doesn’t offer nearly as much protection as your credit card.
- If you must use public WiFi to shop, secure it with a reputable VPN service.
- Avoid download shopping apps that ask for too many permissions.
- Never save your personal information on shopping websites, even if you trust them.
Please monitor your financial accounts regularly for unusual activity. If you notice strange transactions, contact your bank immediately for further assistance.