Online shopping: How to stay safe

Online shopping: How to stay safe

Online shopping

How often do you buy goods online? Maybe you prefer to shop at your local supermarket online? Or do you enjoy ordering essentials from your cosy sofa, and going into town seems like a burden?

If you spend more time shopping online, you’ll know it’s convenient. But do you also know the risks involved with ordering through the Internet? There are ways to keep safe. Here’s a look at how to protect yourself while buying online. 

The rise of online shopping

You’re not alone in your preference for shopping online. In the run-up to the pandemic, we’d been building towards this over buying in-store. Once COVID-19 arrived, many of us were suddenly working from home and depending on e-commerce more than ever before. In March 2020, 40% of UK shoppers stated they’d been buying online more than their shopping habits before lockdown. 

Since then, we’ve mostly retained this trend towards buying online over in-store. Easy-to-navigate sites plus fast delivery times make this option very convenient. 

What are the risks of shopping online?

Although it’s convenient, online shopping isn’t risk-free. Knowing what to be aware of is the first step towards protecting yourself while you’re buying from the Internet: 

  • Identity theft – if your data falls into the wrong hands, hackers could use your information to make purchases as if they were you. You are trusting a website to accept your bank details. 

Cybercriminals will monitor your activity and might send you a phishing email. Alternatively, they might hack into your account at the store you buy from and access your information that way. 

  • Credit card fraud – hackers will redirect customers to a malicious site. This happens at the point of payment and steals information that way. Customers may not even notice they’re on a fake site because criminals have spoofed the original so well. 
  • Fake sites – some online shops aren’t what they seem to be. Many false online shops are designed to trick people into handing over their cash for products that don’t exist. 

How to stay safe

Here are some ways to keep safe online: 

1- Only shop on HTTPS websites – check the URL before you pay for anything online. If it’s an https site, it’s encrypted with SSL, a secure sockets layer. Look out for the locked padlock in the address bar too. 

2- Don’t click on ads – ads are an easy way for someone to steal your IP and access your personal information. This is a common method used by hackers. What can someone do with your IP? They can find your location and personal info. It can also be used to hack your device and send sensitive data. 

3- Use a VPN – this keeps your Wi-Fi connection private. 

4- Don’t overshare – keep the details you share with online retailers to a minimum. Businesses don’t need your date of birth. But banking apps often ask for this, if criminals get this information plus your card details, they can do damage. 

5- Keep up with your bank statements – make sure you know what’s going out of your bank and flag anything that looks unusual. 

Are you an online shopper? Or do you prefer to buy in-store?