If you are hesitant to do online shopping or payments, this article will give you the best security tips so that you may go ahead and shop online without worry about safety and security of using personal information online. I have a few tips for those who do want to enjoy the benefits of shopping from home and those who want to get a break from running around to pay bills. This is also for all my friends who want to, but are afraid to transact online for fear of sharing financial information.
Shop with a credit card, not a debit card – Credit cards always have better protection and support from the card companies, so just in case something goes wrong, the have the authority to stop/cancel the transaction within some time period. On debit cards however, the money goes as you pay. So, even if you have protection, the money is already gone.
Use one card for all your online shopping – It is easier to keep track of transactions on one card and you will be able to check your statement easily.
Use one computer (preferably password locked) for online shopping – When you shop online frequently, use same computer and have a login password enabled on it. It is not just for security from unwary users, but also a protection from some viruses (namely trojans).
Use newly opened browser for all online shopping or payments – Always close all windows of the browser and open afresh for online shopping. Also do not open multiple tabs for shopping and surfing. For surfing, use another different browser. For example if you use Google chrome for shopping, then for surfing at same time, use Internet explorer or Firefox or Opera.
Always close browser window after completing purchase – Even if you have to surf net afterwards, close the browser windows once and then open again. This is very important as you may have noticed that even banks ask you to close window after you log out (it is important to close not just tab but all the browser windows). The explanation for the and previous point lies in the fact that browsers store information on your computers in “cookies”. Reliable sites delete important security information on closing of browser though unimportant personal info may be retained.
Never click on links in emails – Even if the mail is from someone you know, do not click on links in emails. It can be a potential source of viruses and hence security compromise on your pc. Who can be sure if your known contact’s computer isn’t security compromised.
Check the site name and URL in the browser address bar – When proceeding to pay for a purchase, always keep an eye on the site name and URL in the address bar of the browser(that is where you type the site URL for going to the site). It will either be starting with same site name of will be the third party site like PayPal, CCAvenue, etc. Check the third party site (if you are not sure) to be a payment gateway before you make payment.
Look for SSL sign/padlock in browser address bar – Before making payment, check for https:// in the address bar URL and for the SSL sign. SSL means data is sent encrypted over the net and only target site can decode it. (When a SSL Digital Certificate is installed on a web site, users can see a padlock icon at the bottom area of the navigator)
Use a latest and updated browser – You may use any operating system like Windows, Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora etc) or mac but use the newer browsers for online shopping. A new and updated browser will have less security loopholes and better viewer experience too. Avoid using older browsers like IE6/IE7.
General Precautions as for any shopping – Last advice, but not the least, as for all shopping, do get a gist of the fine print on the site like shipping details and time, warranty info, replacement policy, money back guarantee terms etc. For this I would suggest you shop online only on reputed sites which are well established and used. These sites invest in infrastructure and security and hence are more suitable for a good shopping experience online.
Use price comparison sites for faster and foolproof shopping – This is not exactly a safety tip, but is a smart shopping guideline. Price comparison sites usually present prices from various reputed online shopping stores in one place and you may try them for getting a good deal.