Many of us are staring down a three-day weekend for President’s Day, which means retailers are gearing up for huge sales and we can’t wait! Shopping at home is one of the most popular ways to make purchases. It’s convenient, fast, and many times there are deals online that you simply can’t get in store.
But if we aren’t careful, the joys of online shopping can quickly turn sour. When shopping online, here are a few simple safe shopping tips we recommend at the Center for Cyber Safety and Education:
- Be wary of clicking on an advertisement for a product that you received in an email or see on social media. If in doubt, simply go to your browser, type in the store’s address and search for the special there.
- Make sure you’re on the site you want to be on. If you search for a store or product online, use extreme caution when you see the results. Either type in the address as suggested above or double-check once you click on the link that you really went to the site where you planned to shop. Even check the spelling of the site’s name before clicking any deeper and especially before entering any personal information.
- When possible, use a credit card – as opposed to a debit card – when shopping online. If someone gets access to your account, you typically have more fraud protection with a credit card. Also, don’t store your card numbers on a site. Type it in each time. It’s a little more work, but a lot safer.
- Make sure you see “https” (not just http) in the URL. The “S” means the organization is leveraging encryption for its online transactions. Organizations not supporting https are opening their customers to having their online transactions intercepted.
- Create strong, unique passwords on every site using at least 8 characters. The more the better! Use two-factor authentication when offered and do not reuse passwords.
- Never shop on open WIFI like you would find at a coffeeshop or store. Ensure you are on a trusted internet or cellular connection, before shopping and making purchases on-the-go. The best way to know if your connection is private is if you had to enter a unique password to use it.
You may have heard the saying ‘think before you click’ and it holds incredibly true here as well. Take your time when shopping online and be on the lookout for signs you may not be on a safe site. Don’t risk compromising your identity, cash, or device safety to catch a deal before its gone.
Now that you know the steps to be a safer online shopper, it’s time to pass the knowledge to younger generations. Are you a parent? Big brother or sister? Uncle or aunt? Teacher? Make sure you are educating the children in your life about how to be safe and secure online. Need help to engage them in the conversation? We have your back. Use Garfield to teach the little ones why sharing their password online isn’t safe.