Secure Shopping: How to Keep Yourself Safe When Using Online Payment Methods

Did you know over 79 percent of Americans now shop online? In 2002, only 22 percent of Americans were shopping online.

Evidently, the internet has revolutionized how we buy and pay for goods and services. As ecommerce grows, however, so does online payment fraud. In fact, online billing fraud increased by 34 percent in 2017.

As a consumer, this information is enough to discourage you from shopping online. If you fall victim to fraud, you could lose a lot of money.

Worry not, though.

In this article, we’re telling you how to keep yourself safe when using online payment methods. Read on!

Do Not Use Public WiFi or Computers

This is probably the most common mistake online shoppers make, and it’s easy to see why.

Admit it, you love public or free WiFi. Regardless of the lurking danger, most of us are unable to resist the temptation to connect our devices to a free or open network.

Other times it comes down to circumstance. Perhaps you’re in a library and you decide to use the facility’s computer to look up a book on your favorite online bookstore. Before you know it, you’ve already made an online purchase –using a public computer!

It’s simple, really. If you don’t want to fall victim to online payment fraud, don’t use public networks or computers. Hackers can easily intercept information sent over public networks.

Buy from Reputable Online Stores

Which is your favorite online store?

Chances are high it’s Amazon, BestBuy or another well-known brand. However, this doesn’t mean you do all your digital shopping on the popular e-commerce sites. You’re probably always on the lookout for the best deals, so you’re bound to land on other online stores you’ve never bought from.

Amidst the excitement of finding a killer deal, you can forget to do some due diligence on the store. Maybe it’s a fraudulent site that’s out to collect your payment information – and you just swallowed the bait!

The gist of this is you’re safer shopping on reputable sites that have been in existence for a long time. If you come across a new site offering awesome deals, it’s best to stay away, or at least do some due diligence first.

HTTPS Matters

The S in HTTPS stands for ‘secure.’

Sites that deploy HTTPS (you can see it in the address bar) are more secure than sites that use HTTP, but let’s delve deeper.

When you’re browsing the web, your browser sends data to the websites you visit. HTTPS encrypts this data. It converts it into a code which cannot be easily read or decrypted by parties with unauthorized access.

On the other hand, data sent over to sites that use HTTP is not encrypted. It’s sent in clear text, which can be easily accessed and read by eavesdroppers.

As a standard, all websites should use HTTPS. However, it costs money to purchase SSL certificates, so it’s not uncommon to find sites that are still on HTTP.

If an ecommerce site uses HTTP, you cannot trust it with your personal and financial information. Don’t even think twice about giving it a try.

This applies to any site, regardless of its reputation. SSL certificates expire and it can take time before the site’s administrators renew. If your favorite site has fallen back to HTTP, wait until they renew the security certificates before you make a purchase.

Create a Strong Password

Most ecommerce businesses require shoppers to create an account. It’s a good thing to do, because it’s quicker and easier to place and track orders from your account.

Unfortunately, most users don’t do themselves any favors. They rush through this process, creating weak usernames and passwords. It’s no wonder hacked passwords cause 81 percent of data breaches.

When creating accounts on an ecommerce site, take time to craft a strong password. Use a combination of small and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols. You’d rather spend extra minutes on this process than put yourself at risk.

Also, don’t let your browser or device auto-remember your passwords. If you lose your device, a stranger can gain access and steal your information or use the account to make fraudulent payments.

Keep Your Antivirus Updated

Your device’s antivirus program is usually a reliable line of defense when it comes to online payment fraud. But it will only stand its guard when it’s up to date.

If you pause those updates or fail to renew your subscription, you’ll only have yourself to blame. Modern antivirus programs have the ability to scan all the sites you visit and will advise on whether they’re safe or not.

Stay Away from Sites That Ask for Unnecessary Information

When you want to shop online, a legitimate store will only ask for your name, email, phone number and shipping address. Of course, you’ll also key in your payment information, but most sites don’t store this data.

If you find a site asking you for any additional information, such as your Social Security Number, run for your dear money! Ecommerce sites have no business asking for your SSN or any other information that doesn’t help them process your order.

Be Careful with Ecommerce Apps

Did you know Amazon app has over 140 million users? Walmart app follows with over 82 million users, and eBay comes third with over 58 million users.

Welcome to the age of mobile shopping!

Even with the ease and convenience of shopping on the go, mobile ecommerce apps are more vulnerable to online payment fraud than websites. According to a recent survey, 90 percent of mobile apps are still using HTTP in some of their processes.

As a user, it’s your job to check the security level of every shopping app on your phone. App stores usually provide this information, so you don’t have to dig deeper. Plus, you can read the app’s user reviews to judge whether it offers a secure shopping experience.

Avoid Clicking on Email Hyperlinks

You’re minding your business in the office or scrolling through your social feeds at home, then an email notification pops.

You tap or click on it. It’s from an online store and it’s offering you’re a sweet deal. Something like “30 percent off if you buy in an hours’ time!”

Not the one to pass up an opportunity to grab something at a great discount, you click on the hyperlink, which takes you to the site. Eager to make the purchase and get back to your life, you key in your personal and financial details without even vetting the authenticity of the site.

Email phishing is a common strategy deployed by hackers and fraudsters. The hyperlink leads to a fake page, where you, without your knowledge, hand over your details to fraudsters.

The good bit is this easily preventable. Just avoid clicking on the hyperlinks, even if the email appears to be from a familiar source.

Pay Using Credit Card Instead of a Debit Card

From credit and debit cards to online payment systems such as PayPal, you’ve plenty of online payment options at your disposal.

Thing is, online payment methods aren’t created equal. Some are safer than others.

Credit cards, for instance, offer greater fraud protection than debit cards. Under consumer protection law, a consumer’s personal liability protection on a credit cannot exceed $50. On a debit, your liability can be as high as $500, often depending on how quickly you report the fraudulent activity.

Another advantage of using a credit card over a debit card is the speed of reimbursement. While credit card companies typically reimburse the money as soon as you report fraudulent activity, banks will take weeks to investigate the matter and reimburse the money to your account.

Stay on Top of Your Online Shopping Records and Balances

With the advancement of online invoicing solutions such as OpenFactura, ecommerce companies have a greater ability to keep shopping records and furnish their shoppers with the same information.

As an online shopper, it’s essential to stay on top of your shopping records. Scrutinize every purchase and flag any unfamiliar entries.

Similarly, keep tabs on your balances before and after shopping. This will help you catch double or hidden charges and raise the issue with the store or your card issuer.

That’s How to Stay Safe When Using Online Payment Methods!

Thanks to ecommerce and online payment methods, now we don’t have to waste time in long queues as we wait to pay for goods and services.

Unfortunately, the online world is littered with scammers and fraudsters who’re out to steal our financial information and use our money. Lucky for you, we’ve shared most of the information you need to have a secure online shopping experience.

Enjoy your shopping and stay tuned to our blog for more money tips and insights.

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