How to Protect Your Personal Information When Shopping Online
There are so many instances of data breaches online and there seems to be new instances on the news regularly. If you look at these recent examples, you will see that hacks and data criminals have cost these companies more than $1.23 billion. It’s insane!
The thing is that most of these happen with no warning. While the big companies always make the news, there are thousands of smaller websites that are hacked all the time, exposing your information. But the news doesn’t report on them because they are not headline grabbers. Also, most of the hacks on smaller sites go unnoticed.
The way you find out is by something bad happening, like fraudulent credit card charges or identity theft. You have to be proactive in order to stay safe online, so I put together a quick little guide that consists of some basic tips. I hope you find it useful.
Look for Secure Websites
When you land on a website make sure it’s secure. You should see a green bar in your browser or another type of “secure” notice. If a website isn’t secure most browsers will notify you of that as well and some will even prevent you from visiting the site without confirming you do indeed want to visit the URL.
You can also look at their website URL and if it starts with “HTTPS” you know it is secure. If it is just “HTTP” then it is not secure.
Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit Cards
This is something not a lot of people are aware of. When you shop online you should always use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit cards offer you much more protection in the event that your information is stolen.
While most debit card issuers will claim to have fraud protection, it’s often times more of a hassle. Also, if your info is stolen then can wipe out your account. A credit card offers so many more benefits in regard to protection. Use a credit card for all online purchases. You also benefit from the points so pick a card that offers something appealing to you.
It’s always a good idea to read reviews before placing an order on a website. Check for a BBB profile, a Google profile, Facebook business page and then a Yelp page. Spend a few minutes and dig up as many review websites as possible.
If you see a lot of negative reviews it’s a good idea to go elsewhere. With so many options online why chance it with a company that might not be stable. If they aren’t providing good customer service do you think they are going to be taking online security seriously? It’s doubtful.
Check Domain Age
With so many fly by night websites, it’s always a good idea to do a little digging and one of the easiest things you can do is find out when their domain was registered.
The most popular domain lookup tool is who.is, followed by GoDaddy’s WHOIS database tool. If a website was just launched you might want to look for a more established option. Companies that have been around for a long time generally have policies in place related to customer security.
Always go for the more established and trusted option. You have to look out for your personal information’s best interest.
Look for Complete Contact Information
If a website has no contact information that is a big red flag. So many websites don’t have an address or even a contact number. What happens if something goes wrong? What if your information is stolen and you can’t get in touch with the company?
I only do business with e-commerce websites that have multiple ways to contact them. Now a blog only needs a simple contact form, but if you are asking me for my credit card you better have a way for me to get in touch quickly.