Seven tips for safe online shopping

Seven tips for safe online shopping ahead of Black Friday
© Shutterstock Seven tips for safe online shopping

Black Friday is approaching, and many stores are already advertising tempting discounts and other offers.

But dealers aren’t the only ones looking for buyers. Fraudsters try to take advantage of this circumstance and extort money from unsuspecting consumers.

Cybercriminals lurk and outdo themselves by creating fake websites that look very similar to the real ones. They are armed with “banking Trojans” ready to steal online shoppers’ personal data and payment details, or simply rely on bad online shopping habits, making the whole process unsafe and exposing their data to cybercriminals, reports Kaspersky announcement.

But while internet scams and cybercriminals are thriving, that doesn’t mean you should avoid online shopping altogether. Safe online shopping is indeed possible, provided you take the proper precautions and follow 7 simple important internet safety tips:

Stop opening emails from people you don’t know

Companies have been using “email marketing” to sell products for years, but it’s also the preferred method of communication for hackers. They use email to “fish” victims who are willing to give out sensitive information, such as their bank account or social security numbers. As a general rule, don’t open an “email” from a company you don’t recognize. And for those you know; double check that the “email” address they are writing you from is genuine.

Be wary of online coupons or “freebies”

Online coupons and freebies are a shopper’s dream, but scammers use the lure of great deals to trick online bargain hunters. Beware of any coupon or “freebies” website that resembles a big box store name, such as “Target.Shopping.xyz”. Look for sites that ask you to create a long profile with real personal information.

Always type “URL” in the address bar; don’t click on “hyperlinks”

Scammers who send “phishing emails” rely on you to click on the link in the “email” in order to be taken to a retailer’s website. Likewise, with links to altered search results. However, these links actually take you to cleverly designed similar sites. So, when you think you are putting your username and information on the “Amazon” website, you are actually giving it to a cybercriminal.

So, to make sure you’re going to the retailer’s real, authentic website, it’s much safer to type the retailer’s “URL” into your browser’s address bar. It may take a little more effort, but this simple action can help prevent you from visiting a fake, or malicious, website.

Search the web safely

Although search engines are very useful —when you’re looking for products, reviews, or price comparisons— you run the risk of inadvertently “clicking” on “poisoned” search results, which could lead you to malware instead of the intended destination. Malware has the potential to wreak havoc on your computer, or phone, or steal usernames and passwords to your online accounts. Regardless of the type of malware, you definitely don’t want it infecting your computer.

So how can you avoid these “poisoned” search results created by cybercriminals? You can use tools such as Kaspersky’s “URL Advisor”; or third-party browser plugins such as “Web of Trust”.

Don’t shop in a coffee shop

If you feel like shopping, don’t do it in public places with free “Wi-Fi”, it’s safer to do it over your mobile network. The unsecured nature of public “Wi-Fi” makes it easy for hackers to steal information, such as your credit card number. Experienced hackers could steal the “Wi-Fi” signal or even create their own to trick you into using it. And they can see everything you do on your own mobile device, or laptop. This means that if you log into an online banking account, or retailer’s website, the hacker will get your username and password.

It’s always best to shop from home where your network is more secure and protected with a password.

Use a dedicated email address for purchases

In a similar way, by creating a “clean” computer, you can do the same with an “email” address. Create an “email” address that you will only use for online purchases. This will greatly limit the amount of “spam” you receive and greatly reduce the risk of opening potentially malicious “emails” disguised as sales promotions, or other notifications.

For example, if you use your dedicated email “email” to shop on “Amazon.com” but receive a message from “Amazon” on your primary email account notifying you of a problem with an order, or your account on “Amazon.com”, there is a high possibility that it is a fake, or malicious message, sent by cybercriminals.

Manage and protect your online passwords

Using strong passwords and using a different password for each “online” account is one of the most important things you can do for secure online shopping. We know it can be hard to remember so many different passwords, especially when they consist of lots of letters, numbers and special characters. But you can use a “password manager” to help you maintain strong passwords for multiple accounts.

Safe online shopping is possible if you follow the tips and recommendations above. Don’t give up security for convenience. Keep your data secure and you’ll avoid the online shopping problems that have plagued so many others.

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