According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of online shopping has increased from 7.6% in 2016, to 8.5% of all retail sales. Despite the security risks associated with shopping online, the amount of online shoppers continues to steadily increase. Just about everybody has bought something online at one point or another. Whether it be a gift for an out of state family member, a personalized gift, or heavy furniture. Shopping online really simplifies the shopping process and allows consumers to purchase items without the hassle of a store.
One of the safest ways to purchase goods online is through prepaid cards. Instead of providing your personal credit card information, you input the number of the prepaid card. When purchasing the prepaid card, you deposit money to the card directly without having to link bank account information to the card. This way, if the card information is stolen, they can only access the amount on the card, not your other accounts.
Using secure, established websites can greatly increase the security of your purchases. The more well-known a company is, the more harm a cyber attack could cause. For example, if you buy a product from a local website shop, and their information gets hacked it probably won’t make the news or really affect sales too much. However, if you bought an item from a big chain retailer online, and they were hacked, it would certainly make the news and their revenue could take a hit. Because the risk to the company in the event of a successful cyber attack is so huge, they take large steps towards securing their online purchasing software.
Secure Internet Connection
Public WIFI connections are not secure. Any person who can access the network could potentially access your payment information. For example, if you are at a fast food restaurant, and you go online and buy something, any other person accessing the same WIFI could obtain your information. Even utilizing your internet providers hotspot is not necessarily secure because it is still a public WIFI connection. Even though you must login to access it, other customers of your network provider also have access.
Hotspots can also be duplicated. A hacker could create a hotspot with a common name, like ‘Mall of Georgia HotSpot’ and not require a password to login. Once you connect your phone to the network, the hacker can access all your information. The safest route is your own personal hotspot with your data plan.
Verify Email Accounts
Sometimes stores send you gift cards or rewards. When you receive emails of this nature, make sure it makes sense for you to be getting the email. For example, if you have a Wells Fargo credit card, that does not accumulate points, but you receive an email about bonus points, be weary before opening and clicking on any of the links.
You can also verify that the email address sending the email is valid. One way to do this is to compare it to emails you know are legit. You can go back through your emails and search for emails sent by the same company to verify.