Reading an article on a well-known cyber security website I thought it was a really good idea to post about the most common mistakes people make when buying something online and how to keep your personal and financial information safe from scammers/hackers/bad guys in general.

So let’s get straight to the meat and potatoes:

Common Mistakes/Oversights and How You Can Avoid Them:

  1. It sounds counter-intuitive but “Googling” stuff sometimes is really a bad idea; the reason is very simple: scammers are now very sophisticated and they create fake shopping pages that look very impressive, with shopping carts and checkout pages.
  2. If you shop at a brick and mortar store and want to try the online experience, go directly to the store web address instead of using a search engine like Google.
  3. Watch out for email offers and coupons that have links you’re supposed to click to that might redirect you to a fake or dangerous website. Again, if you get one of those coupons from a store you shop at and trust, simply go directly to their website and I can guarantee you at checkout you’ll have the option to enter the coupon or promo code (if it’s not, simply call them and ask).
  4. DO NOT USE PUBLIC WIFI WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE: I know using all caps is rude, but I don’t care… using public Wi-Fi is a well-known security hole you open on your computer every time you go and get your latte.
  5. Avoid using QR codes: you know those weird codes with a bunch of squares that are supposed to give you special offers? It has been reported that bad guys create those phony codes to link to a phishing or malware websites. I’d suggest applying #3 suggestion here as well.
  6. According to Malwarebytes website (which I totally endorse), Do not use debit cards to shop online. Want to give cyber criminals direct access to your bank account? Then by all means, use your debit card! Otherwise, play it safe by using credit cards or a PayPal account that’s linked to a credit card. While many banks are cracking down on fraudulent withdrawals, you’ll still have to wait for your money while they investigate the charges
  7. Make sure you have a security software installed BEFORE going online shopping. Most of current commercial antiviruses and security suites have a website protection built in and might work (or not) but it is much better than nothing – Also make sure your Operating System (Windows or Mac) is up to date.
  8. Be very skeptic of websites that ask you too much information like social insurance numbers, password reminder questions or stuff like that
  9. Check the HTTP on the URL bar (top of the browser) and make sure the shopping cart and the checkout page has HTTPS instead of HTTP; the “S” stands for secured and it has encryption to protect data transmission.

These are some of the most common mistakes and practices, I’m confident if you follow them and keep a bit objective you’ll be fine. Also remember that if you see a deal online that is too good to be true, maybe it is…