It feels great to be able to shop online from the comfort of your home, right? However, consumers like you aren’t the only ones who love the concept of eCommerce – so do cybercriminals. Online shopping portals have become one of the most preferred hunting grounds for frauds preying on unsuspecting victims. The global eCommerce losses due to online fraud were as high as USD 41 billion is 2022, and is expected to reach USD 48 billion in 2023.
This graph demonstrate the value of eCommerce losses from 2020 to 2023.
With that said, online shopping security is clearly a concern for online shoppers. Unlike more conventional forms of fraud, cybercriminals don’t necessarily have to convince you into paying them for a product you’ll never receive. While such scams do exist, there are even bigger online shopping security to worry about – such as the theft of personal data. Once the fraudsters get their hands on information such as the pins for your cards, they can simply empty your bank account themselves.
8 tips to shop online without compromising your security
Recent statistics show that 54% of fraudulent activities take place online. While online shopping security issues can potentially endanger your financial safety, it doesn’t mean you should give up shopping online. There are plenty of genuine and secure eCommerce sites that are safe to shop from. Here’s something you should know about cybercrimes – a majority of them occur due to a mistake on the part of the victim. They need you to make a mistake, that would grant them access to the information they need. Here are 9 tips for safe online shopping:
This graph shows where consumers encounter fraudulent activities the most.
1. Avoid sketchy websites
Shopping from random websites simply because they offer amazing deals is one of the easiest ways to fall prey to phishing attacks. You might think it’s a good idea to buy a product at an 80% discount, but it won’t do you any good if the deal is a scam and you never receive the product you ordered. Besides, such dodgy websites often steal your password or other sensitive data when you enter your bank details or try to log in. Always shop from well-known and genuine eCommerce websites.
2. Only shop on secure websites
Thankfully, checking whether a website is secure isn’t too difficult. Just look at the beginning of the web address. If it starts with “https”, it means the site is secure and the data you share is encrypted. Be wary of sites that start with “http” instead of “https” – those are either illegitimate or lack the necessary security features. Even if the website isn’t run by scammers, it lies vulnerable to cyberattacks that can might steal stored sensitive information.
3. Don’t shop online on public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi connections available at various cafes, restaurants, and other spots are quite popular, especially when its free. 81% of people connect to public Wi-Fi readily, most of them without a VPN protection. However, is potentially compromising your bank account for the sake of free Wi-Fi worth it? Whenever you connect to a public network, any password entered through it lies vulnerable to hackers. This can cause a huge breach in online shopping security, especially if you’re paying by card and enter your bank details. If you don’t have a choice besides using public Wi-Fi, at least stick to known networks and use a VPN.
4. Secure your devices
Your smartphone and computer are how you access online shopping sites and your bank accounts, right? So can the hackers, or anyone who gets their hands on your devices. Securing all your devices is a crucial step to safe online shopping. Install well-known security software to keep your data protected from cyberattacks. Make sure to lock your phone with a passcode, pattern lock, or biometric ID. When browser prompts appear asking whether you want to store crucial information for future use, never click on “yes”. While it might be tempting to let your device remember the credentials so that you can log in quicker next time, doing so also makes the data more vulnerable to theft.
5. Avoid product scams
Product scams are commonly deployed by fraudsters to trick gullible shoppers. This is an easy way for frauds to get avoid dealing with online shopping security, as they create fake product listings resembling genuine ones. You should be careful of deals that seem too good to be true, because they’re usually scams. Also, stay clear of products that have too many good reviews with repetitive phrases. If you suspect that a deal might be fake, get a close look at the photo and try to find its origin. Stock photos product listings are a clear red flag.
6. Check out the privacy policies
7. Avoid giving out unnecessary information
Usually, you’ll have to provide some information when setting up an account or checking out with a purchase on eCommerce sites. While some basic information like email address is necessary, do not provide any details that shouldn’t be necessary for online shopping. You should handle financial information with special care when it comes to online shopping security. Leave optional fields empty when creating your account – the less information you share, the less hackers can steal.
8. Watch out for fake websites
You have probably seen fake duplicates of well-known eCommerce sites already. Scammers build these websites, making them resemble genuine ones as closely as possible. Usually, they create a special offer page or a lottery page that offers the user freebies but requires them to submit their credit card details. The easiest way to spot fake websites is to check the URL. The URL will usually be a very close variation of the original website, with a number or a symbol in between, or a different URL extension.
1. What are the most common online shopping frauds?
The most common online shopping security breaches include phishing attacks, spam mails with suspicious links, fake coupon sites, and shopping account hacks. The scammers can either get you to pay them directly or trick you into sharing sensitive information.
2. How do you identify an online shopping scam?
If you come across an offer that’s too good to be true or a page that says you’ve won a huge prize although you don’t remember signing up for anything, it’s usually a scam. As described earlier, you should also look out for fake websites.
3. How do I know which websites are legit?
To avoid getting scammed by fraud websites, it’s best to stick to reputed and well-established shopping platforms. Unless you know for sure that a new website is genuine and people have shopped successfully from there without any issues, stay away from it.
In contemporary times, it’s impossible to avoid online shopping entirely because of security threats. Besides, it’s not quite logical either. As long as you take the steps necessary to maintain online shopping security and don’t fall for scam offers, it should be fine.