Safe Practices for Online Shopping

The Internet has become easy, convenient, and affordable for online shopping. However, it is also a convenient place for attackers and scammers to access your personal information. Any device that is online needs to be protected. Be alert for emails that require immediate action to click through links or open attachments. Also, be alert for emails that may indicate problems with your credit card, an account, or status of an order. These emails may attempt to steal your personal information. When shopping online, criminals know that shoppers are price sensitive. Use caution when seeing an offer or discount that is below normal or unusually low. Take security precautions and think of the consequences of your online shopping habits.

How Online Shoppers are Targeted

  • Fraudulent websites and emails.
  • Intercepting transactions - using an online vendor without encryption opens the risk for thieves to intercept your information as it is transmitted over the Internet. This attack is called a "man-in-middle" attack. Victims do not know thieves can see their information.
  • Hacking vulnerable computers - fake shopping websites can inject malware onto a victim's computer.  

Online Shopping Tips

  • Research new websites you are using for purchases. Check the reviews and experiences of other consumers.
  • Be aware of the personal information you are giving away when completing transactions online. Be sure that the requested information from the vendor is necessary.
  • Use safe payment options. Using your credit card is generally the safest because they allow buyers to seek credit from the issuer if the product is not delivered or not what was ordered.
  • Read the return policy and other policies.
  • Make sure the site is security enabled by looking for web addresses with the "https://" that shows extra measures are being taken to secure your information.
  • Do not shop on public computers or public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Check the website privacy policies to understand how your information will be used and stored.

Sources:

  1. https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/protect-your-personal-information/online-shopping
  2. https://www.uspscybersafe.com/articles/individuals/risks-and-recommendations-for-online-shopping/
  3. https://www.symantec.com/security-center/threat-report
  4. https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST07-001