Shopping online is becoming increasingly popular with consumers of all ages. With fast shipping and websites selling virtually everything, online shopping is an attractive alternative to the hassle of visiting multiple stores.
However, eCommerce safety is a huge issue, and many shoppers are unaware of how to ensure that their online transactions are safe, secure and private. Fortunately, there are a number of simple signs to look out for and changes you can implement to make purchasing items on the Web considerably safer.
The most common methods used by hackers to steal consumer information are phishing sites and emails. Hackers may set up websites that look similar to other branded sites and send emails to potential customers of those companies urging them to shop through special links. By gaining consumer trust through having a similar appearance to the original company’s website, hackers make consumers feel more comfortable about entering their details into such sites, including credit card information.
Avoiding phishing emails and websites is simple. Any time a shopper receives an email from a company asking them to shop or navigate to a website, they should carefully check the domain the email is being sent from or the URLs of the links they land on. All email addresses and URLs should contain the company’s official domain.
Having updated antivirus and firewall software is also necessary. Also, one must ensure that he or she is using the latest version of the web browser of their choice. Most modern web browsers have inbuilt mechanisms to detect spoofed websites.
A common trick to watch out for is a minor misspelling in the domain name that may be hard to pick up without careful attention. Additionally, some hackers may place the company’s name before the @ symbol in the email address, rather than after, which is where it should be.
All pages, including login pages, asking for consumer details, such as billing/shipping addresses and payment information, should have URLs that begin with “https://” rather than the more commonly used “http://.” The “s” denotes a secured connection and provides encrypted communication between a shopper’s computer and the receiving company’s servers.
Preferably, the site will also have a verifiable certification showing that the site can be trusted and that the installed security suites are up to date. Many sites display a security certification image link or privacy seal, making it easy to verify their status.
People who decide to shop on websites they’ve never heard of should ensure that these sites are legitimate. This can be done by searching for online reviews and confirming that the site is listed as a secure site with a trusted online security company.
One must be extra cautious while shopping on shared computers and always remember to not save login information in the web browser. Logging out and clearing cookies once you are done is also recommended.
Shopping with certain methods of payment and opting for tracked shipments can also provide enhanced protection. Payment services, such as Paypal, allow buyers to dispute charges and other issues they may have with sellers. Many credit cards offer similar protection, and since they aren’t linked directly to a bank account, hackers can’t drain a shopper’s finances. Finally, trackable shipping allows shoppers to find out exactly where their packages are, providing added confidence in the legitimacy of any seller’s services. All tracking information should originate from the shipping service and be trackable within 24 hours of receiving the tracking number.