Online shopping is a year-round activity for consumers, not just on Cyber Monday, Black Friday, or Amazon Prime Day. It’s a convenient and easy way for people to shop when they just don’t have the time to go to the store. Many companies are taking advantage of the popularity of online shopping. One example is Amazon, who came up with the in-home delivery service, Amazon Key.
Even though online shopping appears to be amazing, there are many dangers associated with it. So, what are these dangers and how can people protect themselves from them?
Below I discuss the dangers of online shopping and precautions a person can take.
Dangers of Online Shopping
Identity theft is the most common danger associated with online shopping. In 2016, identity fraud hit a record high, affecting 15.4 million Americans. The amount stolen totaled $16 billion and came from people who made purchases online and in-person.
For online shopping, identity theft criminals steal people’s information such as credit cards, name, and social security number. Then, they can use this information to make purchases on credit cards and fraudulently apply for medical services and taxes. The damage caused by these criminals could last a few months to a few years.
There are many websites online that are supposed to look like the real retailer – these are known as fake sites. Their purpose is to lure in online shoppers and steal their information and money. For example, I came across a fake Staples support site that wanted to charge for extra support help. If you know what to look for when visiting websites, you can spot a fake site immediately.
Online Shopping Addiction
Many people love online shopping, but some people love it to the point of addiction. With the vast amount of products online, it can be hard for some to stop making purchases. There’s always a reason or excuse to buy something, whether it be a present for your son’s birthday or just to cheer yourself up. Online retailers don’t help the situation by pushing advertisements online and having constant sales. You know someone is an online shopping addict when they are getting multiple packages a day.
Shopping Accounts Getting Hacked
With all the data breaches recently, online shoppers should be extremely careful when shopping online. Hackers are more frequently accessing consumer’s accounts to steal credit card and contact information. It’s never a good thing to get hacked and have your information stolen.
To prevent these dangers from occurring to you, take these online shopping precautions.
Precautions You Can Take
Use Private Wi-Fi
When online shopping, always use a private Wi-Fi connection, preferably at your home. The number one mistake many people make is shopping online using public Wi-Fi. Even if the Wi-Fi is at your favorite local coffee shop, don’t use it. Online hackers can easily access your computer or smartphone via public Wi-Fi without you even knowing.
Don’t Automatically Save Your Account Information
Most web browsers and sites ask if you want to “Remember Me” or “Save Your Information.” Next time this happens, don’t choose any of these. An easy way for someone to access your online account(s) and information is by simply just having access to your computer. If all your accounts are auto-login, you are basically inviting others to access them. By having your login information private, you are better securing your accounts.
Create A Strong Password
Regarding any online shopping account login, it is necessary to have a strong password. A password under no circumstances should have any relation to you. Your passwords should be different for every account, roughly 16 characters long, and have a random combination of letters, symbols, and punctuations. Read more about how to create a secure password.
Do Some Browsing On The Website
If you are even questioning whether a shopping site is legit, do some browsing around. The first sign a site is fake is that the price is too good to be true, especially on tech. Also, see if the products featured have reviews. If the reviews are all 5-star or 1-star reviews, the site is most likely fake. Customers range in opinion and it is highly rare that a product is loved or hated that much.
Use A Cell Phone Monitoring and Spy Software
Since most online shoppers use their phone, monitoring your phone activity is essential. iPhone and Android spy software can be used to track all your phone activities, such as the websites you visit and what apps you access. With this, you can make sure there’s no suspicious activity on your cell phone as a result of online shopping.
Set A Online Shopping Budget & Record All Purchases
To avoid over-shopping and spending more than you have, set a budget and record all of your purchases. Most online shoppers don’t realize how much they are actually spending until it’s too late, especially on Cyber Monday. It’s also important to record your transactions because they will come in handy if someone has hacked your account and is making illegal purchases.
Next time you decide to do online shopping, take these dangers and precautions into consideration.