You do everything online — stay in touch with the office, communicate with your loved ones, share pictures and even shop. But with news about hackers and identity fraud occurring all the time, it’s hard to know if it’s actually safe. Even though it may seem like you need to take drastic measures to keep your personal and financial information secure online, there are some simple ways to stay safe while shopping online.
Consider Your Payment Options
You have a variety of payment options when you’re shopping online, each with their own pros and cons. However, most experts agree that a credit card or payment service, such as PayPal, are the most secure. Credit card companies tend to provide strong fraud protection, and it is easy to reverse charges. Because money isn’t coming directly out of your bank account, you don’t have to worry about overdraft fees or not being able to pay your bills while any fraud is being investigated.
There are similar benefits to a payment service in that they tend to have buyer protection so you don’t have to pay for fraudulent charges. With a payment service you also only have to enter your credit card information once (instead of on every site you shop), which limits your risk of theft and means you would only have to enter a newly issued card number in one place.
Update Your Device
Whether you conduct your online shopping on your smartphone or desktop computer, it’s imperative that you keep all of your devices updated. These updates contain patches and fixes to bugs and holes in the operating systems in your electronics. The recent WannaCry hacking took advantage of a bug in years-old versions of Windows and spread quickly throughout the world. Most tech companies do not continue to support old versions of their software, leaving you vulnerable if you don’t update. If you shop through apps or a specific web browser, these also should be kept up to date. Certain anti-virus programs, like Kaspersky, include features like Software Updater to make the necessary patches.
Take Advantage of Extra Security Features
The software on your computer and smartphone isn’t the only thing that keeps your devices secure for online shopping. You also should take advantage of the latest hardware features. Start by setting up a lock screen on your smartphone (PIN, pattern recognition, fingerprint) so your information can’t be accessed if your phone gets into the wrong hands. You also should look for the best mobile processors, especially ones that bolster the security of your devices. For example, Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processors include the Qualcomm Haven security suite, which features use a variety of biometrics and your phone’s hardware to secure your identity. It uses the camera to scan your eyes, a fingerprint scanner to make secure payments and malware protection to protect your device and personal information. All of these features make it safer to shop online when you know you’re the only one who can access your financial information.
While you can use all the services and create the strongest passwords, nothing makes up for common sense when it comes it online security. Don’t buy items off of websites you don’t know or seem fishy. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. You should trust your gut and avoid anything that doesn’t feel right.