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Important Cybersecurity Tips for Online Shopping

The days of hours spent in town driving through traffic to multiple stores only to have what you’re searching for elude you is over. Shopping online simplifies life, offering more selection and flexibility without consuming an entire day. However, the dangers of online shopping are ever-present, requiring diligence to avoid significant risks.

Safeguarding your personal information and credit cards online is imperative. Florida credit card fraud continues to be a costly threat to many residents. Use these cybersecurity tips for online shopping to protect your finances from cybercriminals.   

Only Shop on Secure Websites

Always verify a site is secure before clicking. The web address will be prefixed with “http” or “https”. Shopping on sites with an address beginning with “https” ensures it is encrypted, keeping your data more secure by providing:

  • A private connection preventing criminals from intercepting and correlating your internet communications
  • Peace of mind in knowing you are on a business’s official site, preventing your personal information from being stolen
  • An encrypted, swift connection

Learn more about HTTPS. If you experience credit card fraud after shopping on an unencrypted site, there are steps to take after spotting credit card fraud.  

Ditch the Debit Card Online

Debit cards directly link to your financial accounts, leaving your finances vulnerable to immediate theft. Using a credit card allows more time to contest fraudulent charges and does not give immediate access to financial accounts. Refunds are more straightforward with credit cards.

Payment services like PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay provide an encrypted payment method unique to each transaction. These payment services never transmit your banking information when you make purchases, making them one of the safest ways to shop online. Find other secure payment methods to facilitate a safer home shopping experience that helps prevent fraud.

Use Strong Passwords

The use of strong passwords is continuously encouraged for a reason. Strong passwords make it more difficult for your information to be hacked. Also, using different passwords for each site prevents hackers from accessing other sites you visit if they gain access to your passwords, allowing them to make unapproved purchases using your login information. 

Using a password manager lets you up your password game when it generates and keeps track of complex passwords that provide almost hack-proof protection. No methods of protecting yourself online are foolproof. But password managers offer more solid protection. 

Keep Your Device Updated

Computers, smartphones, and tablets can be set to update automatically, letting them do the job for you without having to go into Settings and give permission. Set your device to update itself, which generally happens at night when it is charging and most users are offline. 

Choosing antivirus and anti-malware software will add additional levels of security to computers. 

Removing viruses from your computer will likely require a professional. Discover more about Florida’s identity fraud risk compared to other states. 

Go to the Source

Assessing a website directly from its secure page encrypted by HTTPS is always recommended. A tactic hackers use to target unsuspecting online shoppers is phishing scams, which utilize emails portrayed to be from trusted sources and businesses providing links to shopping deals and offers. When shoppers click on the links, they send shoppers to a site built by cybercriminals who gain access to your payment information when you try to purchase on their site. 

Hackers also use texts, offering links to great buys and purchases that draw in shoppers with a click on the screen. Text links also reroute shoppers to fraudulent sites where cyber thieves easily extract your hard-earned money. Become familiar with the common internet fraud scams in Florida

Viruses and malware are also sent out through emails and corrupt a device when the bait of special offers and gifts is taken. Links to websites are easily accessible, requiring less work to navigate to an official page. Take a few extra moments to access a business’s webpage through your search engine instead of clicking a link.

Be Careful Where You Shop From

The beauty of online shopping is that it can happen anywhere. Sitting in the airport waiting on a flight or at the local coffee shop provides precious time to pick up those top online purchases while you wait or take advantage of personal time. Using public networks opens a device up to hackers with access to these networks.

Public networks are not private and allow any user online access, creating dangers when you shop online using these unsecured connections. Never log in to sensitive sites like your bank’s mobile app or website, online payment services, or any account that could expose your personal information. Also, ensure you have logged out of sites with sensitive information before making a public network connection.

You may also choose to set up a virtual private network (VPN) on your device to provide the security you need on the go. A VPN encrypts your data, making it more challenging to target you specifically. You may consider a VPN if you access sensitive information frequently in public places. 

Provide Limited Information

When purchasing online, a business asks for contact information before confirming your purchase. Many fields on that form are starred, requiring you to enter information before completing a transaction. Other fields are not mandatory, so you can choose whether to provide personal information. 

While it may seem helpful, mainly when there is trouble delivering to your address, the more information you voluntarily supply, the more personal data may be passed on to other sites or accessed by hackers. Reading the privacy policy of a business takes time, but it gives insight into how companies distribute personal information. Personal information may also end up on the dark web when a company’s site is hacked, or the information is purchased and sold to scammers putting companies and individuals at risk.

Tackle Online Shopping Threats Confidently

Following these tips keeps you one step ahead, providing privacy and security while you shop online anywhere in Florida. Seek help immediately when you become aware of credit report and ID theft in Florida. Protect your financial future by taking action. 

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