Stay Safe This Online Shopping Season

A few tips to keep you safe online as you're trying to get presents for your loved ones...

online shopping

The (online) shopping season has already started so we thought we’d give you a few tips on how to stay safe on the Internet as you’re ordering presents for your friends and family. Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Use a VPN

First and foremost, get a good great VPN. Feel free to consult our list of Best of the Best VPNs where you will find all the field tested services that won’t let you down no matter what you throw at them. They will make sure all your online communication goes through encrypted channels so that no one can snoop into it.

Also, with a VPN – you get to benefit from deals that may be specific to some locations. You can do this by connecting to a server in the area for which those deals are available. As long as it doesn’t involve shipping to that area, this could get you a better deal.

If you’re not sure about the price differences between different locations, well, you can always visit the same online store multiple times with different virtual locations every time — just connect to a different VPN server and you’re good to go.

2. Don’t shop in shady stores

While we don’t like the fact that Amazon keeps tracking our shopping behaviour, we do trust they won’t steal our money and will even keep us protected against some merchants on its platform.

This is not the case with some lesser known stores. So before paying a single cent of your hard earned money, make sure to check out that store’s reputation with Trustpilot and Yelp, or even check their Google reviews.

For added security, you may want to check the store’s social media accounts just to be sure they are indeed a legit store that has been serving customers for some time.

3. Enter you credit card only on secure pages

This is somewhat related to the previous point. You don’t want to enter your credit card details on insecure pages. What you’re looking for is a padlock icon to the left of the URL in the browser’s address bar; it is there to indicate that the store is running on a secure server.

For an added convenience, most new browsers will notify you when you’re accessing a non-secure page. So get out of it and spend your money elsewhere.

4. Don’t buy anything over public Wi-Fi

Even though a good VPN will keep you protected while connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, we still don’t advise anyone to buy anything this way. Simply put, someone could spot your credit card information on the screen and potentially cause a small havoc for you.

If you do have to make some purchase while in a cafe, make sure your VPN is turned on to protect you against the so-called “man in the middle attacks.” If you don’t have a VPN, now’s the time to get one. 😉

5. Use strong passwords

This is a general rule that only extends to online shopping. Forget about generic passwords that include names and simple numbers. What you want to use are passwords that are impossible to guess and then combine them with a multi-factor authentication if it’s available.

The best passwords are unique, long and use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and spaces. In that sense, they are also almost impossible to remember so you should also use a password manager like NordPass, LastPass or 1Password.

6. Use secure payment methods

If there is an option, try not to put your credit card information into a website; rather, use secure payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, and Venmo. These services provide an extra level of protection between your money and a retailer.

If that’s not an option, go with a credit card instead of a debit one as it tends to come with included protections against online scams. Speaking of which…

7. Watch out for scams

Use your brain before paying for anything. You know the saying – if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

This is especially important for great “offers” that tend to fill out our inboxes just before Christmas. So many offers and so little time.

Let’s face it – you’re already living your life without all those things so if you see an email from an unknown merchant in your mail, delete it before it gets a chance to tempt you to make a purchase. It’s that easy. 😉

8. Turn on card charge notifications

Some banks and credit card companies offer these as default and for some others, you have to manually turn them on.

With card charge notification you will get an email and/or an SMS every time your credit or debit card is being used to make a purchase. It will then give you an easy way to keep track of the card use — so you could instantly react if your card gets missed. And we all hope that won’t happen.

Hopefully, you will find some of these tips useful and will therefore make your next online shopping more secure. Cheers! 😉