Are you aware that online fraud is rising in the UK, the United States, and in most developed countries? In 2015, more than 133.5 million British pounds was lost in an online fraud. As more people continue to embrace online shopping and banking due to its convenience and speed, online criminals are also becoming more sophisticated in the way they operate.
The Biggest Threat to Online Shopping and Banking
Online shopping and banking have exploded in the recent years. According to the data from the UK office of National Statistics, more than 90% of households in Great Britain have internet access. At least 73% of adults accessed the internet “on the go” using a mobile or smartphone. When it comes to purchasing online, over 77% of adults buy goods or services online.
Without a doubt, online shopping and banking are growing at an exponential speed due to its convenience. We all love the feeling of having our products ordered from the comfort of our bedroom and delivered to our doorstep even before we wake up from sleep. As convenient as this experience might be, it also brings another problem – which is online fraud. The increase in online activity makes it more lucrative for fraudsters who are looking to trick buyers and steal their money or even their information.
When you are shopping online, your money isn’t the only thing that is at risk, your information can also be compromised. In fact, an online criminal can do more damage to you when he gets access to your information. Staying safe when shopping online should be a priority for you. In this article, you will learn of top 10 expert recommendations for staying safe when shopping or carrying out banking transactions online.
Top 10 Ways to Stay Safe When Shopping and Doing Banking Transactions Online
1. Make Use of a Secure Computer
You should never make use of a public computer or borrow a smartphone from a friend when you want to shop online. No one can’t be sure that their security measures are up to date and you have no idea who will use the same computer after you. Your safety could be compromising when you do so. Scan your personal computer for virus and always ensure it meets the RIT Desktop and Portable Computer Standard before you get online.
2. Update Your Browser and Anti-Virus
It is very important that you make use of the latest Windows system, browser, and anti-virus. Most people forget to update their browser or antivirus. This will save you and protect you when you are browsing online. Always check for the latest update of your browser and antivirus before you go online.
3. Research the Company/Website
There are many untrusted websites out there. In fact, even a real website can be cloned. Before you go online, make sure you research the website and get their correct URL. When you are banking, make use of FDIC Bank Find page to ensure that the bank is insured by the FDIC.
4. Check the URL
Before you finally log on, ensure you check the URL of the website you want to use. This will help you avoid what is known as “Pagejacking” – an act where a user will be redirected to another website after clicking on a link. This act is usually used to redirect a web user to a cloned website that looks exactly like the original website and deceive you into feeding your data. Don’t log on when you are in doubt of any site URL. If you are not sure, call the company and ask them to send you their website URL.
5. Use Strong Password
Shockingly, over 75% of internet users make use of an easy-to-guess password. This is because they want to make it easier for them to remember the password. Unfortunately, when you do this, you are also making it easier for a hacker to guess your password and use it to steal your data and money. Grow the habit of using a strong password that is a combination of letters, numbers, and unique characters. Make your password very strong and very hard to guess even for you. This may seem a bit inconvenient but it will certainly make it hard to be hacked online.
6. Never Use the Same Password on Different Websites
You should certainly avoid using the same password on different websites. Don’t use the same password for your email account, Facebook account, Instagram account, shopping account, and banking account. Using the same password on various platforms make it easier for a hacker to have a big payday when he hacks into one of your accounts. If you are finding it difficult to remember your passwords, you can make use of services such as LastPass.com to save all your password. This way, you will only need to remember just one password.
7. Make Sure the Website Uses Encryption
Never log into any website that does not make use of encryption. In fact, Google is beginning to de-rank websites that do not have encryption. Before you log into any website, check the URL and make sure it starts with shttp or https. Don’t log in if it starts with just “HTTP” – it is not safe and your information can easily be compromised.
8. Avoid Submitting Your Information By Email
No legitimate bank or retailer will ever ask you to submit your private information by email especially when you did not ask for it. This is a method known as phishing. Some online criminals go to a great extent to create emails that look likes it originated from a trusted institution such as your bank or retailer and ask you to submit your private information or click on a link. Don’t fall a victim. Always verify by calling the institution from a number on their website and not the number sent on the email.
9. Get Virtual Credit Cards
A lot of banks now issue virtual credit cards. This type of card allows you load a small amount of money which you can use when shopping online. This way, even when your account gets compromised, you will only lose the small amount of money in your credit card.
Moreover, shopping with a credit card is also the best way to protect yourself online. You will be protected by the Consumer Credit Act if the item or service worth more than £100 and less than £30,000. Please note that this is possible only when you are shopping on UK websites. You can make use of services such as PayPal to pay for goods and services. PayPal will help you protect your account and even recover your money when shopping online.
10. Be Vigilant
Online fraud is growing and getting more sophisticated every day. You need to be extra vigilant when shopping or banking online. Keep your banking details safe and never make payments directly to an individual’s bank account. Always be careful of links that you click whether it is a link that is sent to your email or on social media websites. Finally, make sure you change your password frequently.
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