When shopping online, it’s essential to take steps to protect yourself.
Online shopping is a fun and convenient way to make purchases, locate hard-to- find items, and discover bargains, but it does come with some level of risk. We need to know that anything connected to the Internet, including mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, need to be protected – especially during heavy use periods, like Dashain and Tihar. During this period, scammers and cybercriminals become more active and target online shoppers. Everyone should be on alert for emails or online advertisement that might get us to act quickly and click on links and open attachments. We need to be aware of emails about problems with your credit cards, online payment account or an account or the status of the online order. The bad guys know we are price sensitive when shopping online. Being a safe and secure shopper starts by applying security precautions, thinking about the consequences of your actions online and enjoying the conveniences of technology with peace of mind while you shop online.
Remember the following tips during all online purchases.
Before you buy:
- Conduct a background research: Make sure that the e-tailer lists a physical address and phone number. Call the company’s phone number to see if there is a representative you can speak to. When using a new website for purchases, read reviews and see if other consumers have had a positive or negative experience with the site.
- Think thrice before clicking any link: Links in emails, posts, malicious online advertisement, and texts are often the ways cyber criminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.
- Personal information is like money; value it and protect it: When making a purchase online, be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete the transaction. Make sure you think it is needed for the vendor to request that information. Remember, you only need to fill out required fields at checkout.
- Review return and other policies : Read return and other policies so you know what to expect if the purchase doesn’t go as planned.
- Check the web address to make sure you are on the correct website: Once you arrive at a site, you need to make sure that it is legitimate and not a fake site.
- Check that the site is secure: When shopping, check to be sure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with https:// indicating extra measures to help secure your information.
Shopping On the Go:
- Use safe payment options: Credit cards are generally considered the safest option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered. But the safest payment option is “Cash on Delivery”.
- Now you see me, now you don’t: Some stores and other locations look for devices with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you are within range. Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use.
- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct over open public Wi-Fi connections, including logging on to key accounts, such as email and banking. Adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your phone.
After Your Purchase
- Keep a paper trail: Keep a copy of your order number and receipt, and note which credit card or debit card you used. When you receive your card statement, review it to make sure that the charge placed on your card is correct and that there are no extra fees or charges.
- Inspect your purchase as soon as you receive it: Make sure that the product you received is correct and is not damaged. If you have to return or exchange an item, do it quickly so you do not exceed any return restrictions
Basic Safety and Security Tips:
- Keep a clean machine: Keep all web-connected devices ‒ including PCs, smartphones, and tablets ‒ free from malware and infections by running only the most current versions of software and apps.
- Lock down your login: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking, and social media.
- Make your password a sentence: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “Happy Dashain to all.” can be turn into H@ppyD@shain2aLL). On many sites, you can even use spaces!
- Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.
- Do not use a public computer to shop online: If you are using a public computer, strangers may be able to access your browsing history and even your login information. To protect yourself, do all of your online shopping from your secure home computer.
- Only use a secure connection when you place your order: Never shop using an unsecured wireless network or free wi-fi because hackers can access your payment information if the network is not protected.
By following the above tips, and doing a little homework ahead of time, we can expect a safer shopping experience.
Happy Dashain and Tihar.