When you are shopping online, it is important to understand the risks you are taking. Cyber criminals lurk in the shadows ready to snatch your personal information to use for their own nefarious purposes. While there are ways to protect yourself from identity theft and credit card fraud, it is always best to be extra careful.
As a precautionary measure, you should adopt the following safety tips while shopping online:
Only Shop At Well-Regulated Websites
When you navigate to a retail web site, you should understand that it is governed by rules and regulations set forth by a governing body (the “website operator”). If the site operator is not accredited by an organization such as the Better Business Bureau or the FTC, then you should exercise extreme caution before providing them with any personal information.
When you visit a website, you should expect that your privacy may be invaded. Retail websites may collect your personal information for a number of reasons, such as providing customer service, letting you know about sales and promotions, or gathering demographic information. As noted by the Federal Trade Commission, “many online businesses collect personal information for the purpose of selling products or services. This means that, in most instances, a business collects your personal information to serve your needs, rather than to sell products or provide services.” When you visit a website, you are giving your consent for an unknown entity to collect and use your personal information for marketing purposes.
Use A VPN To Keep Your Identity Safe
If you are concerned about protecting your identity while shopping online, then you should turn to a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts all of the data you place on a network, protecting it from tampering and ensuring that nobody but you can read it. Because the data is encrypted, any snoopers (whether government or private individuals) trying to intercept your information will have a very hard time doing so.
When you use a VPN, you should expect that all of your internet traffic will be secured. Encrypted VPNs mask your true identity so that website operators cannot connect your browsing habits with your real-world identity. When browsing with a VPN, your internet activity will appear as if you were connected to the website operator from a different location. This could give the appearance of someone trying to hack into the website operator, or it could even provide the illusion that you are someone else entirely.
Use A Second Identity
In addition to using a VPN to ensure your identity is safe while online, you should also utilize other methods to protect yourself. In the event that your personal information is compromised, then it would be advisable to change your passwords regularly (at least once a month) and preferably use a different password for each account. If you notice that your accounts are becoming compromised, then it is time to change your passwords and ensure you are not using the same password for any other accounts (e.g., email addresses, social media accounts, etc.).
Keeping your personal information secure while online shopping is crucial. You should understand the risks associated with providing your personal information to unknown entities, whether they are retail operators or cyber criminals. The best course of action is to be extra careful and adopt the following safety tips while shopping online:
– Only shop at websites that you trust;
– Use a VPN to ensure your identity is kept safe while online;
– Use a second identity when necessary; and
– Remember, hackers aren’t the only ones trying to steal your information – retail websites want your personal information too!