10 Important Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Did you know that E-commerce is increasing at a rapid pace? This is especially true in light of people shopping from home much more during the pandemic. While online shopping is convenient, it also comes with the risk of scammers.

An increase in online shopping leads to a rise in fraudulent activity. Here are some of our top safety tips when shopping online to help you avoid becoming the latest victim.

Safe Online Shopping

Safe Online Shopping

1. Make sure you have a secure connection

One of the greatest advantages of our mobile devices is that we can access information and complete tasks on the go. However, it is advisable to do your online shopping at home with a secure connection. Avoid using public WiFi or public computers to purchase items online, as they don’t guarantee your privacy.

At home, make sure that your computer’s firewall is on and always password-protect your wireless network.

2. Purchase from a reputable vendor

Big box names like Amazon are typically safe, but what if you’re looking to purchase from a local vendor? If you don’t know the store, take a few precautions before placing an order. Do your own background check about the company, give them a call, or take a look at their online presence and reviews. If it’s a challenge to find out more about the company, trust your gut and choose a reliable vendor to buy from.

3. Be careful about offers that are too good to be true

Many consumers browse online stores for the latest deals with companies that offer competitive prices. However, any online store that promises a price that seems too low is cause for suspicion. When a price for a certain product is set much lower than others, consider the following:

  • Whether the merchant attained the items legally
  • Whether you’ll receive the same brand shown in the picture
  • You may receive a cheap substitute
  • You may not receive your purchases at all
  • It may be a way to get your financial information

Always compare prices before you buy. If it seems too good to be true, chances are, it is!

4. Purchase cyber liability insurance for your business

With more people working from home, there has been an increase in cyberattacks. Many households use the same computer to work, shop online, and complete other errands, which provides hackers with the opportunity to not only retrieve your personal information but your business and clients as well.

Cyber liability insurance offers protection for businesses that have sensitive data on their computer systems, cloud or electronic devices. Cyber liability provides coverage in a few areas:

First-Party Coverage – covers costs associated with the direct response to a cyber event which can include data restoration, business interruption, notification of affected parties, and legal advice related to the event.
Cost of credit monitoring and crisis management.
Third-Party Liability – which provides coverage for associated and delayed costs from the cyber event. This can include fines and penalties, contract breaches, and privacy liability lawsuits.

Any business should assume that they are a target of hackers including small business owners to large corporations, no one is immune to cyber-attacks.

5. Bookmark your favourite shopping sites

Be very careful about typing the name of the retailer in your browser bar. A simple typo or missed letter can bring up a fake site that looks just like the real one. Once you make a purchase on a fake site, your credit card number and personal info are in the hands of scammers.

6. Pick strong passwords

A strong password keeps cyber thieves out of accounts where you store sensitive information. Experts recommend using a combination of uppercase and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Be sure to change your passwords often and avoid using the same password for every account. A hacker who guesses one password will then have access to the accounts you frequent.

7. Be wary of email scams

One way hackers access sensitive information is by sending emails from an address that looks almost identical to your colleagues’. If you spot a suspicious email, take extra precaution in confirming the message with your coworker, friend, or family member.

You may also get emails claiming there’s been a problem with a package delivery or that your item is out of stock, with a link to make a different purchase. If it’s from an unfamiliar sender or you notice a small difference in the address, don’t open any attachments or links in messages as it could be a virus and other malware.

8. Use a Credit Card or PayPal

Debit cards don’t offer the same security protections as a credit card or a secure merchant like PayPal. Consider using one credit card strictly for online shopping so that if your card information is stolen, you can quickly cancel the card without impacting other transactions.

9. Never give more information than you need to

Online stores will never ask for sensitive information like your SIN card or require your date of birth. When a company asks for your birthdate, it’s often for market research purposes, or they will be clear about any birthday offers, or you need to be over a certain age to purchase a product. Giving this information is optional, so be wary if an online store requires it.

If you’re making a purchase for the first time with a certain company, take the time to read their privacy policy and find out how your information will be used.

10. Update your software

Always keep the operating system up to date on your laptop, desktop computer, and mobile devices and install anti-malware with anti-virus and a firewall. Software updates improve security and help fight new attacks that are continually being developed by hackers.

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