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Some people shop almost exclusively online, and with the holidays gifting many folks gift cards, hackers are on the lookout for ways to exploit those who shop via the Internet. What can you do to stay safe while you are shopping online?
Before we dive in too deep, be aware that many of these tips can be applied not just to your online shopping activities, but to just about anything you do on the Web. Here are a couple of tips you can use to stay safe while online.
Supporting small businesses is all well and good, but you need to make sure that your credentials aren’t being stolen in the process. If you are unfamiliar with the online retailer, you need to be sure that their website is legitimate so that you are paying the appropriate company and not some third party—perhaps even a hacker. Be sure to do the appropriate research before trusting any online retailer, especially those you are not familiar with.
When you are shopping online, if you take any one thing seriously from this article, then let it be this: look for the padlock icon in the browser bar. This is indicative of a website that is using encryption to secure data entered on the site. Look for these on payment portals and anywhere you might plug in passwords, usernames, or other sensitive information.
Many people will receive emails for receipts, order confirmations, shipping information, and other information—especially during the holiday season. One way hackers take advantage of this is by sending out phishing emails designed to look like these types of messages in hopes that the recipient won’t be able to tell the difference. They might ask you to verify contact information, payment information, shipping information, and more. You should always be checking the authenticity of these messages by cross-referencing them with your own records on the specified website. For example, if Amazon sends you an email asking you to verify payment information (hint: they won’t), make sure that the message corresponds with an actual order you placed by reviewing your order history.
There will always be opportunities for hackers to steal your sensitive information, so the fewer opportunities you give them to do so, the better.