Online Shopping – Best Practices

Statistics show that more people are shopping online. With that said, chances are good you will make at least one purchase on the Web. Cyber thieves are aware of this, too — they’re just waiting for an opportunity to strike. Here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming a victim:

• Make sure you use secure, unique passwords on their email accounts. Many online merchants ask cardholders to register an account on their website and require an email address to which the merchant sends any invoices or receipts, account confirmations and password resets. If a bad guy can compromise the email address, he can leverage it to hack other purchasing accounts you may have with e-commerce providers.

• Use a single card for all online purchases. You should keep an eye on this account regularly for unauthorized purchases or other charges. That way, you’re only potentially endangering a single account.

• Beware of phishing ads or popups for deals that seem too good to pass up. Deals that entice cardholders to click on a link or download a coupon for a great deal could be vehicles for a hacker to push malware to their computer. Thieves could be trolling for account information, banking credentials or other personally identifiable information (PII) that could be used in identity theft. If a deal seems too good to pass up, there’s a good chance it’s a scam.

• Don’t use public computers or networks for online shopping. Libraries, coffee shops and other public accesses to the Web are dangerous places. Bad guys may have installed keyloggers, sniffers or other malware designed to steal your information. In general, you should always consider these devices compromised and shouldn’t share anything you wouldn’t want shouted in public. This includes card numbers, email or other account credentials, or any other PII that could give a hacker an opportunity to steal your accounts or identity.

• Keep computers and browsers up to date with the latest patches and software. Of course, that’s not unique to this time of year, but you can go a long way toward securing your online transactions by staying secure in general. Current patches, anti-virus software, firewall settings and other general computer security techniques are always important, but the increased amount of seasonal online commerce provides a tempting target.

• Make sure the websites you visit are what they say they are. Cybercriminals can create website URLs that look very similar to real e-commerce websites. For example: They could create a scam site called hxxp://www.amaxon.com that uses Amazon’s Web pages as a template. When you enter their credentials or card number, you are actually giving that information to the hacker. You should pay attention to the browser’s address bar before entering any sensitive information and hover over any link that directs you to a shopping site to make sure the link takes them where you think it does. The convenience and versatility of today’s online shopping experience can help you get your shopping done in less time and with less stress. But, it’s important you follow safe computing practices to make sure you don’t pay for it later!