Do’s and Don’ts of Online Shopping: How to Protect Your Identity

In comparison to the thousands of years of face-to-face commerce, internet shopping is still in its infancy. It’s like the Wild West–a brave frontier of great promise, but also great danger. Online identity theft rose 200% since 2010. Here are some useful tips that’ll lower your chances of joining that statistic.

Use Secure Sites

Have you ever noticed the “http” in a website address change to “https,” or seen a green padlock appear in the address bar? This indicates that a website established a direct, private, and secure line of communication with your computer using randomized access keys. In other words, only your computer can open the locked information it sends. It’s possible for a hacker to “guess” your key’s info, but it would take literally trillions of years. If you don’t see this information appear in an online store, run the other way.

Have Common Sense

Even in the digital world, your gut can be the best protection. If someone feels off, then it probably is. Be wary of websites that have strange or unusual names, unprofessional appearances, deals too good to be true, or promises from eccentric Nigerian princes. Online businesses should never ask for information that wouldn’t be asked for in-person; never give out your social security number or other such private details. Wire transfers and bank account numbers aren’t necessary either. Trust your gut in situations like these.

Go Through a Middle Man

The best way to prevent thieves from getting your credit card information is to conceal it from them entirely. Look into using third-party in-betweens like PayPal. It basically works in three steps: 1) Create an account, 2) Link the account to your bank account or credit card, 3) Make purchases online without your bank/card information ever showing up on an invoice. Best of all, third-party services like these are typically free.

Explore Internet Security Software

Computer hackers and identity thieves are craftier than ever. They’re constantly developing hidden programs that can take control of your personal information without you even knowing. Spyware, malware, and viruses all have the capability of ‘infecting’ your computer. It’s always a good idea to avoid clicking on popups and ads–better yet, just disable them all together. There are many free anti-virus protection programs available as well. Be wary of paying of paying for anti-virus protection, though, because hackers are sometimes hired to create new content to keep them in business.

Have Someone Watch Your Back

Even if you seem to do everything right, you should always be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Internet security is changing every day, and it’s nearly impossible to keep up with it. You should invest in online purchase protection programs to ensure that all of your bases are covered. Your identity and bank accounts are insured through programs like these, giving you the peace of mind to freely browse and shop through the internet.

Online shopping offers convenience and variety like never before, but your identity is always at risk. Following these do’s and don’ts will help keep you safe.