Top 12 Tips for Secure Online Shopping

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Tips for Secure Online Shopping

Shopping online has become a part of our lives but some still worry that their credit card details will be given to the wrong person. Online shopping is certainly here to stay and online security continues to advance. There are arguments that shopping online can be safer than shopping over the phone or even in person, as you never hand your card details over to another person. Just remember to follow these tips to keep your online shopping a safe and secure experience.

 Use Familiar Websites

Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, chances are it's less likely to be a rip off. We all know and that it carries everything under the sun; likewise, just about every major retail outlet has an online store, from Target to Best Buy to Home Depot. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example)—those are the oldest tricks in the book. Yes, the sales on these sites might look enticing, but that's how they trick you into giving up your info.

Look for the Lock

Never ever, ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn't have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. You'll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar. It depends on your browser.Never, ever give anyone your credit card over email. 

Don't Tell All

No online shopping store needs your social security number or your birthday to do business. However, if crooks get them, combined with your credit card number for purchases, they can do a lot of damage. The more they know, the easier it is to steal your identity. When possible, default to giving up the least amount of information.

Check Statements

Don't wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don't see any fraudulent charges, even originating from sites like PayPal. (After all, there's more than one way to get to your money.)If you do see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only once you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems, however; after that, you might be liable for the charges anyway.

Don't Give Social Security Number to Online Retailer

Vendors should never ask you for your social security number unless you are applying for in-store financing or something to that effect. If they are trying to require you to enter a social security number just to order a product, then they are most likely scammers. Run away fast. While your birthday may seem like an innocent enough piece of data to give out, it’s just one more of the three to four data elements needed by a scammer to steal your identity.

Find Out the Seller’s Physical Address

If your seller is in a foreign country, returns and exchanges may be difficult or impossible. If the merchant only has a P.O. box listed, then that may be a red flag. If his address is 1234 in a van down by the river, you may consider shopping elsewhere.

Check the Seller’s Privacy Policy

While we might not think about it, some sellers resell our personal information, buying preferences, and other data to market research companies, telemarketers, and spammers. Read carefully and always make sure that you are opting-out and not opting-in when asked whether you want to have your information shared with “3rd parties” (unless you like a lot of spam in your e-mail). You may also want to obtain a separate e-mail account to use while shopping online to avoid clogging up your personal e-mail box with the barrage of sale ads and other junk mail that is frequently sent out.

Avoid Strangers on Social Media

Although many retailers use social media to drum up business, sometimes their accounts get hacked and you're sent a dangerous message or tweet designed to look legitimate. Fraudsters also send malicious messages through social networks. BitDefender recommends treating messages from strangers as spam -- just ignore them.

Don't Click on Fake e-cards

 E-greetings are welcomed by most people, but the security firm AppRiver says fake cards can spread viruses. It recommends that consumers delete cards that come from unfamiliar addresses.

Print or Save a Copy of Your Orders

It’s always a good idea to keep documentation of your online purchases. Most retailers will send you an email or refer you to a web page with a confirmation of your purchase; this page should include a purchase receipt and a confirmation number. Print or save the confirmation and keep it until you receive your product.

Optimize Your PC’s Security Settings

In addition to maintaining and updating your antivirus and antispyware protection, make sure your PC’s security settings are optimized. Many malicious programs are explicitly designed to take advantage of security vulnerabilities in operating systems and web browsers. Two simple ways to protect yourself:

Keep your browser and operating system up-to-date: take the time to install those free updates and security patches when they’re released. Here too, you may want to enable your settings so that these updates are installed automatically.Run System Mechanic’s Security Optimizer, which automatically finds and repairs vulnerabilities and loopholes that may exist in your operating system and web browser

Use a Good Anti-Malware Program

This may sound obvious, but many people ignore the advice to install anti-malware software. It is critical that online shoppers secure their PC from viruses and other attacks.

To ensure that your security program’s protection stays current, keep its virus and malware signatures up-to-date. Fortunately, most programs can automatically update these signatures, so be sure the automatic updating feature is enabled in your software.

Further, because viruses can swiftly change and mutate, use a program designed to detect newly created or mutated threats even before their signature is part of the automatic updates. iolo’s System Shield® AntiVirus & AntiSpyware uses Sentient Technology, a heuristic feature that adapts to yet unclassified attacks based on behavioral analysis.

Be smart, be safe, and know that there are groups such as the Internet Crime Complaint Center that can help you if you think you’ve been outright scammed.


  1. I do online shopping too..this tips are really helpfull..thanks!

  2. There are lots of bad elements in the internet and security must be observed always. Your article is good for this online shopping and thanks for that. Hope that in the future, more advanced security will be discovered for this kind of transaction.

  3. Secure your transactions. I also select only reputable suppliers and those who have a good track record.

  4. I used to work for Norton and saw how easy it is to bypass any level of security. It's not about how good the attack software is. Most of the time, online shoppers get tricked into allowing the malware to get into the system. The best tip is to be aware and vigilant on any transaction online

  5. Online shopping is convenient, easy, and quick. But before you start adding items to your cart, make sure you are up-to-date and have the latest security software, web browers and operating system. Keeping a clean machine is the best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

  6. thanks for the tips and guidelines - perfect for those who are not used to online shopping.

  7. Glad to read your post. I am actually using paypal and it is one of the best way to buy online.

  8. You really need to be careful when online shopping coz there are so many scammers and thieves on the web. Scary. Doesn't stop me from buying stuff online, though. I find it's better to use a debit card for online transactions.

  9. Yes all the tips are all true, during my college days, we have a class that includes online security. Just double check all the information of the shop before purchasing