Is Online Shopping Safe?
Online shopping is convenient and can be a lifesaver during the holidays, but it's more important than ever to pay attention to security.
Research suggests that consumers are more likely to abandon their online shopping cart over the shipping fees or having to create an account rather than due to concern about the security of their information.
In 2017, 15.4 million Americans had money stolen through identity theft, with $16 billion lost in total. According to USA Today, Online phishing attacks are up 297% over the last year, so it's smart to be concerned about how your information could fall into the wrong hands.
How to Know Which Online Retailers to Trust
So, how do you know which retailers to trust online? Here are some things to look for:
- The store has a physical address: Maybe you've never been to the store, but you can tell it exists.
- Online SSL certificate: This means that the web address for the online store has an "s" in the https:// portion of the web address. An insecure website won't have the "s." and may not be safe to use.
- The URL and Store Name Mismatch: The store name in the URL matches the store's real name. Some scammers will use simple misspellings to trick you into thinking you're on the actual site. For example, if Old Navy's address has an extra v in the word navy, www.oldnavvy.com, it's a scam and unsafe to enter your personal information.
Other Ways to Stay Safe Online
Even if you know you are purchasing from a reputable website, your information can be intercepted in a variety of ways. To further protect your data, you should:
- Watch Out for Public Wi-Fi: Avoid buying things online while you're using public Wi-Fi, like on campus or at a coffee shop.
- Watch for Viruses: Make sure to update and run your computer's anti-virus software often to help ensure your computer is free of viruses.
- Have strong Passwords: It can help to use strong randomly generated passwords. It is essential to not use the same password for multiple sites or accounts.
- Don't Forget Mobile Security: Take your mobile security as seriously as your desktop security. Put a password on your phone, or use a bio-metrics password if your phone has the technology available.
Remember, if you're uncomfortable with giving out information a retailer may be asking for, cancel the sale. Be especially wary if they ask for unusual details like your birthday, your social security number, or where you went to college.
Be sure to contact BECU immediately if you suspect your information has been compromised while shopping online or your identity stolen.