SOS – Seven Steps to Safe Online Shopping
Can you make quick cash online? Keep safe when you shop!
Whatever did we do before the Internet?! We can now manage every aspect of our lives online, with more apps and opportunities being added every day. Whether managing your time, socialising with family and friends, monitoring our health, banking, being entertained .. the Internet is core to our very existence.
One thing that most of us do regularly is shop online. But are we conscious of the risks? There are lots of fraudsters out there who will try to either steal your information or con you into thinking you’re getting a bargain but instead making a bit of quick cash for themselves.
So what do we need to do to keep ourselves safe when shopping online? Here are our Seven Steps to Safe Online Shopping:
- Protect your computer
Computers are no different from any other household electrical item in that they need regular maintenance to function effectively. This is particularly important in the area of computer security. New viruses are appearing all the time so you need to update your operating system and virus protection regularly. Also make sure you install a firewall as this will prevent websites from downloading items onto your computer.
There are ever increasing risks of your computer being hacked so as well as taking the above steps, ensure that you tidy up your computer regularly so that only the files you really need are on there. Keep backups of important files in a separate location, and make sure you do not store sensitive information (such as personal details or passwords) in obvious places on your computer.
- Choose passwords that are not easy to guess
You should use passwords to protect your computer and also to logon to websites that contain any type of financial information – such as banks ,or shopping websites where you either have an account or they hold details of your credit or debit card. Do not get your computer to save these passwords as this could give others access to your finances.
You should use different passwords for different sites, so that if one does fall into the wrong hands most of your information will still be secure. Passwords should not be anything obvious – such as pet’s names, birthdays, or “password” . Try to make them as complicated and random as possible and include numbers and symbols. If you must write them down then do this in a place that is not obvious and also write them in a way that does not indicate what the password is for.
- Know your Data Protection rights
Under existing data protection laws, organisations are only entitled to hold information about you that they strictly need for their interactions with you. For most organisations this should therefore only be contact details and perhaps your payment information (though be careful with this: see step 6 below).
Data protection is being increased this year with new laws based on the European GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), so there will be even more obligation on companies to handle your data with respect. You should therefore be suspicious if online retailers ask you for excessive information, and you have the right to question this and to refuse if you feel that it is not necessary for them to have it.
- Beware phishing emails
As well as being careful about giving information to websites, also be aware of phishing emails. Most companies that you buy from online will email you with news, deals and offers (although you can unsubscribe from these if you wish). However, fraudsters can also duplicate these emails to try and get your information. These phishing emails will usually include a link which instead of going to the company’s website will go to a fake website and then ask you to enter your information. You could then find your account gets hacked, or even be subject to identity theft.
So when you get an email supposedly from a company you buy from just be a little cautious. Check that the email address it is coming from looks genuine, that it is addressed to you personally and that it is not full of spelling errors. If it offers you something that seems too good to be true then be suspicious: and if it does contain any kind of link or attachment then be even more suspicious, as attachments can often contain viruses. You can hover over a link instead of clicking it to check where the link would take you: if in doubt, don’t go there!
- Look for https and the padlock!
When buying from a website for the first time be careful. There are sometimes duplicate websites around that look just like the real thing but are not. So check out the URL (address) of the website to make sure it is genuine. Also check with friends whether they have used the company and what their experience has been: word of mouth can often be the best recommendation.
You can also check whether the site is secure if it has the prefix “https” and/or a padlock sign in front of the website address. This is particularly important on the checkout page. HTTP refers to “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol” which is the way that websites transfer information: HTTPS means that they do this more securely. Your information is encrypted (put into code) whilst being transferred so that even if it is intercepted by a hacker they would not be able to understand it. So with an HTTPS site, your personal information is more secure.
- Keep your payment information safe
Many online retailers do not process payments themselves but use third party payment providers such as Paypal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay or Worldpay. It is a really good idea to create an account with one of these providers if you do a lot of shopping online. It means that only the payment provider has your financial information (eg your credit or debit card) and you do not need to give these details to the retailer. So it is much more secure – although, as always, be on the lookout for phishing emails that pose as emails from your payment provider.
The way it works with payment providers, for example Paypal, is simple. If the retailer offers it as a payment option, you will be able to click on the Paypal icon at checkout. You can then either complete the Paypal payment on the shopping website itself or be redirected to the Paypal website. Again, with a redirect always double check that it is the genuine Paypal website before logging in and completing the payment. If there is anything you are not happy with, cancel the process and contact the shop immediately.
- Trust your instinct
Above all, enjoy shopping online but be vigilant. If you keep aware of all the above then you should be safe online. Trust your instinct and if there is anything that doesn’t feel right, avoid it until you can find out more information. It is never worth taking risks for the sake of what looks like a bargain.
We hope that the above tips are helpful. They also apply if you are looking for financial help online – perhaps even more so as you are sharing your financial information with other organisations. So do be on your guard, and only choose reputable companies that you can trust to keep your data secure. At Logbook Loans you can deal with us securely online or, if you prefer, by calling 0330 400 4137.