Of all the great things the Internet has brought into our daily lives, one of our favorites here at Intivix is the ability to shop online. We’ve traded in the days of fighting crowds for the ability to slip on our unicorn slippers and shop from the couch.
Shopping online has its share of pitfalls, though. More and more, we’ve got to prepare smartly and be aware of what’s happening while online.
Before we get to the tips, make sure to check out our list of tech gifts.
On to the tips:
Look for the Lock — never buy anything online with your credit card from a site that’s not secured, at the very least, is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption installed. You’ll know if a website has SSL because the URL will start with HTTPS rather than HTTP. Plus, depending on the browser you use, you’ll see a locked padlock icon in the address bar. CLIENT QUESTION: WHAT BROWERS HAVE THIS? If the padlock is green, then the website meets a higher security standard.
Set Strong Passwords — we recommend using a phrase and incorporating a combination of numbers and symbols. Here are some pretty good ones:
Buy from Well-Known Companies — Walking into a traditional store has its benefits, one of which is that you can see what you’re buying and trust the company. When you’re shopping online, make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company by doing these small things: make sure the company has a physical address and contact information (then confirm), make sure words are spelled correctly, and sentences are grammatically correct, and avoid sites that have a lot of pop-up ads.
Avoid Using Public WiFi — If you’ve kicked off the slippers and headed out to a coffee shop to wrap up your shopping, avoid using public WiFi. Since WiFi networks use public airwaves, an identity thief can intercept the information you’re sending out with a little tech know-how. It’s never a good idea to send sensitive information, including credit card numbers, while you’re connected outside of the home.
Pay with a Credit Card — Most major credit cards offer $0 liability for fraudulent purchases, and if someone racks up unauthorized charges on your credit card, federal regulations say you won’t have to pay while the card company investigates.
Check Your Statements — Always a good idea, and especially important during the holidays, to check your accounts for fraudulent charges. You can either log in and look or set up account alerts. Many credit card companies will text or email you about big or unusual purchases, make sure you check those out.
Save Your Receipts — Keep all your receipts, online order confirmations, and tracking information organized in the event you need to return or replace something or find out when a package will be delivered.
Protect Yourself — If you or your family members are regular online shoppers, an identity theft program or monthly credit report check service might be a good idea. Many services monitor your identity and then help repair the damage should something happen.
Last thing, and it’s really not a tip. We get asked whether it’s smarter to shop at a website or via an app. There’s no global truth that one is better than another. Apps tend to be more streamlined and easier to use. But, if you shop at a lot of different stores then managing many apps could be a headache and a website could be easier. The one must, however, is that strong passwords are crucial.
We hope you have a great holiday season and find some great gifts for your loved ones!