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How to Shop Online Safely This Holiday Season

As the internet grows, more and more businesses and markets become represented on various websites.

44% of people searching for homes use the internet to search for property, and even more, people use the internet to buy goods and services.

Online shopping has grown in popularity as the internet has become a more viable host for e-commerce businesses, and this year there will inevitably be an even bigger spike in online shopping as everyone works to stay home and stay healthy.

However, it is possible for online shopping to pose risks as well.

Follow these tips to make sure that you and your personal information stay safe this holiday season.

One of the main ways that hackers gain access to your private information is by getting into your computer while you are on unsafe or unprotected sites.

A pop-up ad that is insistent on trying to get you to their site with “click here now!” or similar messaging can indicate a possible scam.

Be wary as well of emails from users that you do not know trying to get you to visit a website.

If you truly want to follow the link, try googling the company or brand and seeing if their website is legitimate before following another link to the site. Sometimes scammers will pretend to be a part of a real company, so if you are in doubt never click an unfamiliar link.

Use Trusted Sites and Recommendations

When you’re online shopping, make sure that you’re using websites that you know are reliable as often as possible.

The bigger a company is, the more likely it is that they will have better cybersecurity measures in place to keep your data safe.

In only the first six months of 2019 there were data breaches that left more than 4 billion records exposed, so to make sure that your records aren’t part of those that become exposed.

If you’re looking for new places to shop, try checking out gift guides from websites or influencers that you trust.

If they are recommending a product, they have most likely purchased from that site or know that it is legitimate.

If you trust the person who is recommending the product, you can most likely trust their recommendation.

Read Reviews Before You Buy

If you are buying from a new online store, make sure that you read reviews of the business and the products before you buy.

Not only will reviews on the website indicate whether or not the product itself is of good quality, but you can also see if the reviews seem legitimate or staged to make the website look more real.

Make sure that you check Google or Yelp reviews to see if the website is legitimate as well since reviews on the site could be faked to make the scam website look more real.

Don’t Trust Unrealistic Deals

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Any price that seems like it could be below the cost of producing a product is most likely going to be a scam website trying to steal your information.

Even if it is real, it is possible that the seller is lying about the authenticity or quality of the product they’re selling.

That’s probably why 91% of people would rather buy from authentic brands and not from knock-off brands or resellers.

Make sure that if a price is ridiculously low you proceed with caution.

Figure Out the Best Payment Option

When it comes to online payment, there are many different options out there. If you have a credit card, using that over a debit card is a more secure option.

A debit card is directly linked to a bank account whereas a credit card is just linked to an account that can easily be shut down.

Credit card companies have procedures in place for if your information gets stolen as well, and some even have alerts set up for purchases that are out of the usual for you.

If you don’t have a credit card, setting up a PayPal account, Apple Pay, or Google Pay can also be a good option to ensure your information stays safe.

If you use one of these services, even if the website you buy something from is compromised, the payment system will keep the hackers from getting your information.

Check Your Statements

If you use a website that seems like it may be illegitimate or shady, check your bank and credit card statements routinely.

If you notice any charges that you cannot explain, contact your credit card company immediately to cancel or freeze your account and make sure to mark the charge as fraudulent.

You will then have the chance to work with the credit card company so you won’t be responsible for paying for something you did not purchase.

Use Unique Passwords

If you use the same password for every single website, there is a higher chance of all of your information being stolen.

For example, if someone manages to steal your Instagram login information and it ends up being the same as your google account, they could have access to your Google Pay and use that information to steal money or other assets from you.

Google will automatically generate a random password for you every time you start to build a new login, and using the randomly generated login will keep you from using the same password for everything.

Avoid obviously passwords as well such as old pets or other easy to find information about you.

Use a Secure Wi-Fi Network

Not all wi-fi networks are created equal. Any wi-fi network that does not require a password is not secure and makes it easy for hackers to access information on your computer.

If you’re in a public place, like Starbucks, and you’re using their free wi-fi, make sure you’re not logging into any site with sensitive data saved because it can be compromised.

Online shopping at home or on a VPN is the safest option, so try to save your online shopping for when you are connected to a safe internet source.

If you follow these tips, you and your data should be safe while you’re shopping this holiday season.

Make sure that you are always cautious on new websites and keep in mind how scammers think and work.

If you find a website or seller that seems illegitimate or like a scam, make sure to report it and write reviews on Google or Yahoo.

Do you have any other tips for staying safe while online shopping?

Do you have any experience dealing with online scams? Did any of these tips help you?

Let me know in the comments below!

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