Christmas is fast approaching us. Before you realize it, it would be the Christmas eve. If you have not already done your Christmas shopping, you should quickly finish it before all the good gifts are sold out. Many online shopping sites are offering great deals and hefty discounts on Christmas related products. While the honest people are working hard to please the customers, the criminals are also busy in trapping unsuspecting people in their traps. With a little caution and vigil on your part, you can easily avoid such fraudsters from making you part with your hard earned money.
[Image courtesy of kdshutterman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]
Here are seven simple and useful tips that can help you shop safely online this Christmas season:
- Strong Password – The only thing that protects your online accounts in most of the cases is your password. Make sure that you use a very strong password for all of your online accounts. A strong password should be at least 10 characters long, and must have a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, digits and special characters. Try to avoid dictionary words and do not use the same password for all your accounts. You can use Norton Password Generator to create very strong passwords for your use.
- Two Step Verification – If a website offers two-step verification, then it is a good idea to enable it. It does not matter whether the site belongs to email services or offers some other services. Two step verification sends a code to your mobile phone for verification before you can login and the access is allowed, thereby adding an extra layer to your account security.
- Install Good Anti-virus Software – If your computer is infected with malware or compromised, then your keystrokes and screen activity can be recorded and sent to the criminal’s computer. This way your credit card, debit card and other information related to various online accounts can be stolen. You can prevent this by installing a good anti-virus solution like avast anti-virus, AVG anti-virus or Avira anti-virus solutions.
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi or Shared Computers for Shopping Online – You have no control over what someone could have installed on a public or shared computer (for instance in the cyber cafes or libraries). For all you know, they could have been infected with some dangerous malicious software or keylogger. This is why you should avoid shared computers for online shopping. Similarly, public Wi-Fi access points could be configured to capture your information and you should avoid them too for shopping online. Instead, use your 3G/4G LTE connection or some other trustworthy internet connection and use your own mobile phone or PC for online shopping.
- Keep Operating System and Browser Up-to-date – One way the malware sneaks into your computer is through the outdated programs as they might have known vulnerabilities – be it the operating system or the web browser. You can increase your system security simply by turning on the automatic updates in Windows (or Mac or Linux) and using the latest version of a secure web browser like Firefox or Chrome.
- Shop Only from Reputed Online Stores – Some people easily fall victim to the cyber-criminals when shopping online by searching for a product, finding just any online store and purchasing the product. They do not realize that the online shopping website they found could have been a scam. This results in the product never arriving or even worse – their credit card details get stolen. You should always shop from reputed online stores. If you really want to shop from a site that you have never heard from, then first google about it and make your opinion carefully.
- Use Virtual Credit Cards – One fear that crosses everyone’s mind is that what if someone steals our credit card information? This can actually happen if you do shopping on some shady looking sites. As a safety measure you can use virtual credit cards generated online using services either provided by your bank or other third-party companies like Entropay. These cards can be used either only one time or you have to load them before each use. Even if someone steals the information of such virtual credit cards, your real credit card information stays safe and the thieves do not get anything much.
With the help of all these useful tips, I hope you can keep yourself safe and secure while shopping online for your near-and-dear ones and truly have a great time this Christmas with your family and friends.