This holiday season, avoid the mess and stress of crowded stores, jump on the couch, and get your shopping done from home. Follow these five easy tips to shop safely online, and reduce your holiday worries to zero.
1. Use official websites or apps -- every time!
One of the simplest ways to avoid scams is to head directly to the official shopping site you’d like to reach, instead of clicking on a link to get there. That tiny bit of extra typing will potentially save you a bundle in headaches and lost money, by ensuring you aren't giving your payment details to a cleverly disguised evil twin website. And they’ve gotten really clever.
Same goes for shopping apps: download them only from official app stores, such as the Apple app store or Google Play. Whilst a rogue app may find its way into these official stores every once in a while, their quality control is next to excellent — and every bit of safety helps.
What if you see a great deal in an email? Email phishing scams are gotten so sophisticated these days, we’d recommend you to not click on any links or buttons in the email - even if it looks super legit - and just type the shop’s URL into your browser instead. Just in case.
2. Switch on your VPN while you shop
A VPN is an app that encrypts and hides everything you do online - your browsing, your searches, your payment and banking details, etc - from basically anyone, hackers and criminals included.
That means VPNs are perfect for online shopping, since they keep the entire process private and secure. You can get a VPN for your smartphone, tablet, desktop computer, laptop — even your smart TV.
There are many VPNs out there to choose from, and they vary greatly in quality, speed and safety — but we’re big fans of this one.
3. Get rid of online ads with an ad blocker
Apart from a far cleaner, less cluttered online shopping experience, ad blockers can also help keep you safe — online criminals are turning to online ads as a means of delivering malware into your devices, so getting rid of ads altogether can be a nice online security bonus.
Be aware, however, that using an ad blocker can sometimes mess up with a website’s functionality, to the point that some product pages may become just plain unusable. Just something to keep in mind.
4. Don't store payment info online
How many times can you type your credit card number before those offers to save your payment details start appearing irresistible? We understand. It’s a pain. It’d be so nice to have everything neatly saved and ready for your next purchase.
But don’t give in — the less you share and store online, the less personal sensitive info there’ll be of you out there during the next security leaks and breaches. Better safe than sorry.
5. Pay with credit card
If everything goes wrong and your payment details end up compromised after all, paying with a credit card (as opposed to a debit card, bank transfer, or other methods) may save you a lot of trouble. Most credit card offer a good level of buyer protection, such as the ability to dispute charges you don’t agree with. Obviously this may vary from company to company, so it’s worth giving yours a call and see what kind of coverage you’re entitled to.