Holiday shopping on the internet just makes sense. It saves lots of time, avoids the crowds, offers amazing selection, reasonable prices and you can even track your packages. But shopping online is not without risks. Online identity theft is often in the news. Many people wonder what websites are safe. They also worry about giving out their credit card number so often. The good news is that there are ways to drastically reduce your risk when shopping online. The following tips are actually valid all year, not just for the holidays.
Consider basic security. Your browser, your computer and shopping in pakistan your wi-fi should all be as secure as possible. Keep your operating system and applications updated. Use multiple layers of security. Scan your computer for problems regularly. Backup your data, or your whole system, on a regular basis.
Never use public or unfamiliar computers when shopping or banking online. You have no way to tell whether those computers are infected with malware. If they are, you have no defense. Don’t shop or bank from public wi-fi networks. It’s too easy for others to monitor your communication.
Use strong passwords when money or sensitive information is involved. As the power of computers increases, so does the ability of the bad guys to crack passwords. Experts say 8 or even 9 character passwords are no longer strong enough. They say 12 character passwords that include both numbers and special characters are now the minimum needed to stay secure.
use a debit card for shopping online. Laws limit your losses when using a credit card but debit cards don’t have the same protection. One way to limit your risk is to use a separate credit card for online purchases. Should the card ever be compromised, the repercussions won’t carry over to your everyday card.
Another way to limit risk is to use PayPal or other 3rd party service to pay for purchases. The advantage is that when you pay by PayPal, your credit card number is not used in the transaction. The fewer servers your card number is stored on, the lower your risk for loss or identity theft.
Prepaid credit cards are another option for shopping online. Prepaid cards have several advantages. First, they’re available everywhere. Nearly every grocery store and drug store carries them. You can load as much or as little money on them as you need and reload them as needed. Using them online means you don’t have to reveal your card number. Your risk of loss is limited to the amount of money on the card. Read the fine print and watch for high fees.
Disposable’ credit card numbers are another option. Known as ‘virtual’ card numbers in the industry, this option is now being offered by most major card issuers as well as by online services like PayPal. These card numbers usually expire within a month or two of issue and are used in place of the number that’s on your physical card. These numbers are only good once – at the website where they’re used. If hackers obtain this number, it will do them no good. It’s useless if they try to use it again.
When you’re ready to pay at a website, make sure your connection is secure. You should see a padlock in the bottom right corner of your screen or in the URL bar. The web address should also start with “https. ” If you don’t see these indicators, your connection isn’t secure. Also, never save passwords in your browser. That’s the first place bad guys will look if they can infect your computer. Be sure to log out of each site as you shop.
Shopping online doesn’t have to be risky. The guidelines and options above provide a number of ways to reduce the risk of monetary loss and identity theft when shopping online. These suggestions and a healthy dose of common sense can help make your online shopping much safer and more enjoyable.