Online shopping is big business these days, with more and more consumers across the world turning to the world wide web to purchase goods. This is especially the case in countries where eCommerce is really taking hold over the way people shop.

Staying safe while you’re shopping online is paramount, and knowledgeable shoppers know what approaches are best to take.

  1. Choose credit over debit: Credit cards offer protection from identity theft that debit cards don’t. That way, there’s only one account that could be compromised in the event of loss or theft. However, if you’re using your debit card online and someone gains access to it, they can clean out your checking account before you even learn there’s a problem.
  2. Make sure the site you’re buying from is secure and encrypted. When you’re checking out, the Web site address should start with https, not HTTP. There might also be a key, lock or certificate displayed. This means that the site offers encrypted SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) transactions.
  3. Do your research. Check online buyer reviews of the site, and look at all its return policies, warranties and guarantees. Read its privacy policy to see how they’ll use your personal information.
  4. Manage and protect your online passwords. sing a password manager can help you to deal with multiple accounts and passwords – and to encrypt passwords that would otherwise be in plain text. Some antivirus and Internet security software products include password management and password security features.
  5. Type the URL into the address bar. instead of just clicking a link to take you to your chosen retailer’s website, it’s safer to type the retailer’s URL into the address bar on your web browser. It may take a little more effort, but this simple action can help to prevent you visiting a fake or malicious website.
  6. Beware of using Public WIFI. When you’re in a shopping mall – about to make a purchase – it can be useful to make a last-minute comparison with the best deals that Internet retailers are offering. However, there can be security risks if you access the Internet via a public WI-Fi network. Cyber criminals can intercept your data and capture your passwords, login details, and financial information. If you need to access the Internet when you’re out shopping, it’s safer to do so via your cellular network.
  7. Check the company’s private policy. Reading the privacy policy is the only way to know for sure what a company does with users’ information and how it is transmitted. Most of us have a tendency to gloss over this information, especially if it’s lumped with the terms of service that we all say we’ve read and agreed to, but it’s important if you want to make sure your personal data can’t be sold to any third parties and that it is encrypted and secure.
  8. Check your credit card statement frequently. Using a credit card is really the only smart way to shop online. If you buy something from a scam site using a debit card, check, or cash, there’s no way to get your money back. If you use a credit card, the card companies have to reimburse you for fraudulent charges under the Fair Credit Billing Act. But they can’t always catch purchases you didn’t make or receive, so it’s up to you to keep an eye on your statements. If you see something fishy on your statement, just contact your credit card company to dispute the charge and possibly get a new card so the charges won’t continue.