Online shopping has been a real game-changer for many shoppers and shop-owners alike, especially during the current, ever-changing days of COVID-19. As convenient as online shopping can be, there are several things to be aware of before willingly entering your banking or credit card information AND your home address. We’ve gathered five tips for staying safe online while still making the most of your Amazon Prime membership.
Taking advantage of these five tips on your own will surely improve your online shopping experience and level of personal cyber-safety, but fortunately for us, there are people, like Anne Neuberger, the Director of Cybersecurity for the National Security Agency (NSA) who are dedicated to constantly maintaining and improving cybersecurity, even if you’re just shopping online. Now, let’s dive into these tips.
1. Read reviews
Any experienced online shopper knows you can only rely on online reviews so much, but they can be a great resource when you’re trying to determine the legitimacy of a company, website, or product. Some reviews will obviously appear to be scripted or faked, but some will be a little trickier to detect. Some of the most common and easiest tip-offs to spot are: poor or inconsistent grammar and spelling and profiles with generic names or those lacking a profile picture. If you ever have doubts, don’t hesitate to reach out to the company before entering your information.
2. Use private Wi-Fi
This one may seem obvious, but it is possibly the easiest online shopping sin to commit. Sure, the public wi-fi at work is good enough to download another podcast episode or scroll Instagram during your lunch break, but what if you order a Lyft ride home, or treat yourself to a having food delivered for lunch? Anything and everything you search on that public Wi-Fi network is readily available for others to see. Unfortunately, public Wi-Fi is almost unavoidable. For further information and safety tips on using public Wi-Fi, check out the video we’ve linked below.
3. Track your statements
If you took a survey, man-on-the-street style, asking if people prefer online banking to paper statements, what do you think they would say? Online banking has made our lives easier in many capacities, and most importantly, you can keep track of your statements and spending history practically in real-time. Make sure you’re not seeing double charges, fraudulent activity, or unusual expenses. Even if you just check in once a week, tracking your bank statements will help to quickly shut down any activity that you did not permit.
4. Use anonymous delivery
An anonymous delivery service works much like a post office, meaning you will have your package delivered to the anonymous package pickup location, receive tracking information to track the delivery progress, and pick up your package. Many anonymous package delivery services are subscription-based, meaning you are limited to a specified amount of packages either monthly or yearly.
If you live in a location where delivery is unsecured, like a large apartment building or a neighborhood with a high number of “porch pirates,” or even if you’re just uncomfortable with using your home address as your mailing address, anonymous package delivery is perfect for you.
5. Provide Only Necessary Information
Depending on what you’re ordering and where you’re shopping, the necessary information will vary. For instance, if you’re ordering towels, they probably won’t need your date of birth, but if you are ordering age-restricted items, they will obviously need to know that information. An online store should never ask you for your social security number, and if they do, that is a pretty good indicator that you have found an unsafe/scammy website.
As easy as online shopping can be, it’s important to always be vigilant. Stay safe and remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.