Easy ways to shop safely online

July 28, 2015

Online shopping is very convenient, but it's important to keep your account information and passwords secure. These guidelines will keep you safe while you surf.

Easy ways to shop safely online

Protect your online payments

  • Check out the website that you're planning to buy from. Look for a link entitled "Contact us" or something similar. Call the phone number to see if anyone answers, or try sending a quick email. If it's a genuine and reputable site, someone should quickly respond to your query.
  • The payment process should take place on a secure webpage. Look at the address; it should begin with the letters "https" rather than just "http".
  • On some operating systems you should also be able to see a padlock symbol at the top of the page; double-click on it to see the site's security certificate. Avoid any sites without a certificate or where the certificate has expired.
  • Check the delivery times and costs before you commit. The postage and packing costs might negate any savings you're hoping to make by buying on the internet or you may have to wait a long time for delivery.
  • Pay for big items by credit card for the consumer protection that your card company provides. For small transactions, use electronic cash with an e-cash account.

Choose a secure password

You need to think of a password that you can easily remember, but nobody else can easily guess. That means that you should avoid your mother's maiden name and the names of your children or pets. The worst password in the world is PASSWORD.

  • To be effective, passwords should be at least six characters long and include a combination of letters, numbers and punctuation.
  • For example, you could choose the city you most love, add the year you first went there, and replace one of the letters with a punctuation mark: NEWY*RK98. If you must use the name of a loved one, add the year of their birth in some unguessable way, such as mid-word: M!CH11AEL.
  • For very important accounts such as your e-mail, consider using two-factor authentication with your mobile phone. This means that whenever you access your account from a new device, you'll also receive a text message with a code that you need to enter to gain entry.
  • That way, even if someone learns your password, they'll be unable to access your account.
  • Many email providers and other services offer two-factor authentication.

It's important - but not difficult - to stay safe online. By trusting your gut and following these guidelines consistently, your accounts and passwords will be much more secure.

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