Shopping Online? How To Protect Your Consumer Info

Shopping Online? How to Protect Your Consumer Info

Online shopping has become commonplace throughout the world. It's a convenient way to get the things you need without leaving home. Plus, it opens more shopping possibilities than you would have in your local area. However, there can be a downside to digital commerce. Internet fraud and identity theft are real possibilities if you're not careful about your shopping habits. If you want to be sure to protect your private consumer information, be sure to follow these tips.

Use Trusted Sites

One way to stay safe and protect yourself when shopping online is to use sites you know. The big-name companies take great measures to ensure that their sites have protections in place against scammers and hackers. You'll also want to be sure you're shopping from the authentic site. Fraudulent sites often utilize tricks such as misspelling a popular store's name or using .net instead of .com.

Look for Secure Sites

You don't always have to stick with the well-known stores if you know what to look for. SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption lets you know your credit information is safe with a particular website. You'll know a site has SSL when you see the locked padlock icon to the left of the page URL. You will also notice that the site's address begins with HTTPS, rather than simply HTTP. Knowing this information can provide you with peace of mind when buying merchandise online at sites you don't know.

Share Only The Minimum

One way people can get scammed is by sharing too much information. If a site asks you for unnecessary personal details like your birthday or social security number, this is an immediate red flag. Do not provide these types of details, as doing so can open you up to a great deal of fraud. A legitimate retailer will not ask you for excessive information.

Consider Alternative Payment

There are lots of ways to pay online instead of with your credit card. Mobile payment apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay can be used at online retailers as well as at brick and mortar stores. By using them on the phone, shopping can be even simpler. You can pay using your face, fingerprint, or a code. Another method you may not be familiar with is a virtual card app. This app gives you a unique virtual card number to use with individual billers. This way, you don't need to provide your actual credit card information. This approach provides you with increased protection and more control of your personal information.

Make Your Passwords Strong

Experts advise changing your online account passwords regularly to avoid being hacked. Unfortunately, most shoppers don't heed these warnings. No matter how often you choose new passwords, you can protect your account information better by using a strong password. Make sure it's not something people could easily guess, and use a variety of numbers, symbols, and letters to make it complex. Another smart strategy is to use a password manager that creates and stores strong passwords for you. It will even enter them for you when needed.

Check Your Statements

Criminals count on the fact that their victims might not notice excess charges until it's too late. That's why it's so important for you to check your financial statements regularly. If a hacker does use your account, you typically only have 30 days to notify your financial institution of the fraud. Otherwise, you could get stuck with the charges. So, don't wait until your credit card or banking statements come in the mail. Go online and check them frequently so that you can catch any fraudulent charges and report them immediately.

Don't Shop in Public

There are risks to shopping online when you're out and about. Shopping in a public place could allow someone to look over your shoulder and see your credit card information. In addition, it's possible the public Wi-Fi network you're using could be compromised. It's better to be safe than sorry when possible and just shop from home.

Keep these tips in mind when shopping online. A bit of care will help to keep your consumer information secure and save you a great deal of time and frustration.

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