Why Do Online Shoppers Have to Take Special Precautions?
The convenience of online shopping is helping more people than ever this year. You can search from multiple vendors and compare prices with just a few clicks. Unfortunately, that convenience can come at a cost because online shopping is also very popular with criminals who want to steal your financial information or even your identity. What can you do to prevent this from happening to you?
Here are a few common ways that attackers try to take advantage of online shoppers:
- Creating look-alike websites and email messages – Unlike traditional shopping, where you know that a store is a store it claims to be, online stores’ identity is less obvious. Attackers may create malicious sites that are identical in appearance to legitimate sites and send fake email messages to convince you to visit their store.
- Attackers can intercept insecure transactions if a vendor does not use encryption on their website.
- If you don’t keep current with your computer’s anti-virus software, an attacker may be able to gain access to your computer and all the information on it. This is also true for vendors, whose insecure computers can allow attackers to access customer databases.
How can you protect yourself?
- Do business with reputable vendors. Before providing any personal or financial information, ensure that you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Double-check the website address to make sure it matches the vendor’s site. It’s also a good idea to note the phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors if there is a problem with your transaction.
- Only make transactions on websites that encrypt their data. A quick way to verify the safety of your data is to look at the website’s URL. Encrypted sites will begin with “https” instead of “http.” Depending on your browser, you should also see a closed padlock icon near the website address.
- Automatically be suspicious when an email asks you for personal information. Attackers may send emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information. Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email.
- Check your statements. Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.