Blog 10 essential tips to avoid getting hacked when shopping online
Robert Siciliano March 1, 2018

10 essential tips to avoid getting hacked when shopping online

We all shop online. It’s convenient, it’s easy, and for the most part, it’s hassle-free. However, hackers are ever present, and online shoppers are an easy target when looking to steal credit card numbers and passwords. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to secure your online devices:

Buy from real online addresses

Sites like Amazon and eBay are safe places to shop, but there are plenty of others that aren’t. Look for things like strange URLs, bad design, odd email address (contactebay@gmail.com), or broken English—anything that seems suspicious or sketchy should be a warning sign that you might be on “spoofed” site.

Shop at secure sites

If you shop online, make sure you are only shopping at sites that have SSL encryption. You will know this if you see https:// instead of http://. There should also be a lock symbol on the address bar.

Only shop when you have a secure connection

Public Wi-Fi is not safe. It’s convenient, but it’s often open to hackers. So, either use a VPN like Hotspot Shield, which will encrypt the data you are sending so hackers can find you, or wait until you get home and connect to your private home network.

Update your software

Don’t start shopping online unless you are positive that your OS, your browser, and your antivirus software all are updated with the latest versions. These updates often contain security improvements, which help to keep you safe online.

Watch your bank account

Hackers are constantly after your credit card and banking information, and they know that if you slip up when shopping online, they can get the info they need to siphon funds out of your accounts. Set up email and text transaction notifications with your online banking app and keep an eye on your bank account. Report anything suspicious, immediately.

Use a password manager

The people who have the strongest passwords are often the safest when shopping online. However, those long, complicated passwords are hard to remember. So, use a password manager to keep track of them all. Whatever you do, don’t use simple-to-guess passwords. Remember: Hackers are smart.

Don’t fall for scams

It’s probably easier than you think to fall for a scam. Make sure that you don’t click on any weird email links and report sites or emails that seem like a scam. Also, don’t reveal any information that you don’t have to. For instance, no one needs your Social Security number in order for you to buy a new coffee maker.

Record your transactions

Try to keep a record of things you buy online. Compare this with your bank or credit card statement every month. You should also keep receipts in a safe place, even online receipts.

Buy from an app whenever possible

Major retailers, such as Amazon, allow customers to buy directly from the company’s app. This is much safer than buying from a website since sites are often spoofed by hackers in an attempt to trick you into thinking you’re shopping on a legit site.

Use a credit card, not a debit card

Credit cards are safer options when shopping online. Why? Because they have legal defenses that debit cards just don’t have. If you are using a credit card, it’s easier to fight it if your account is compromised. You might not be able to do the same, in the same timeframe, with a debit card.

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Robert Siciliano
About Robert Siciliano

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft expert consultant to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. FInd Robert Siciliano on Google+

View all posts by Robert Siciliano
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