Become invisible to hackers when you protect your email and follow these 12 tips for safe online shopping.
Are you eagerly awaiting the arrival of something you ordered online? Despite the increased number of retail hacking attacks, shopping online is more convenient and popular than ever.
The latest stats show us that 51% of Americans prefer shopping online rather than at a brick-and-mortar. And 80% of us have made an online purchase within the past month! So how do you outsmart the cybercriminals trying to steal your credit card numbers, passwords, emails, and other personal information?
Besides not using public wifi for your transactions and always purchasing from secure sites, check out our 12 best tips for shopping online the smart way:
1. Pay with Your Credit Card or PayPal Instead of a Debit Card
You have an extra buffer when you use a credit card over a debit card linked straight to your bank account. If a hacker should steal your credit card number, they’re stealing from the financial institution lending you the credit, not directly from your checking or savings funds.
Report the suspicious activity and most credit card companies won’t make you pay for the unauthorized charges. They’ll also fight to punish the hacker who stole their money. PayPal is another secure option because it hides your banking details from merchants as well. You’ll transfer the money to PayPal and they’ll pay whoever you’re purchasing from.
Prepaid gift cards are the burner phones of the online shopping world. These won’t connect your purchases to any of your financial accounts and you’ll still be able to shop online.
2. Stop Procrastinating and Update All Your Devices/Software Already!
No one has fun performing updates on their computers, browsers, tablets, software, etc., but it’s a must you can’t skip. Security vulnerabilities are discovered all the time. Hackers use these holes for malware, security breaches, and other attacks. Software patches and updates are the only ways companies can plug up the leaks and protect you from exposure.
So before handing over your credentials, take a second to update to the latest software versions of everything connected to your transaction — including your printer and router. These are notorious entry points for smart hackers to breach your network.
3. Limit the Release of Your Secure Information
Online retailers only need two pieces of information to process a transaction: your payment info and your shipping address. Adding an email and phone number are pretty standard across ecommerce sites as well.
So beware of online retailers asking for too many details. You shouldn’t need your social security number, birth date, or driver’s license number to purchase a pair of sneakers, after all.
The more information you fill out, the more information sits on that website’s server. Then when a hacker breaks into that database, it’s a piece of cake to steal your identity using all the details you provided.
4. Stop Storing Your Personal Information Online
Similar to giving out too much confidential information, letting your browser’s autofill function store your passwords and personal data isn’t a safe bet either. Sure, it may seem like a waste of time to constantly type in your name and address, but did you ever think about where that information is being stored when you’re not using it?
Your passwords, credit card numbers, address, and more should all be stored securely. But guess what? Your browser probably isn’t encrypting this intel. So all your personal data remains helpless and undefended. When large-scale data breaches happen, this is the kind of information hackers look to expose. Then all your private information will be out there for hackers to steal and use forever.
While you can change your credit card numbers, can you say the same for your social security number?
Don’t let any of your browsers store your sensitive information — and clear out whatever they’re currently storing ASAP.
5. Clean Up Your Emails Periodically
You receive an email for every online purchase you make… and probably never delete them. But what if someone should hack into your email and find all the receipts for your past purchases?
Get in the habit of deleting emails containing data leading back to your transactions so hackers won’t be able to track where you may have stored your payment info.
Once they get to that, there’s no telling the damage of their celebratory shopping spree at your expense.
6. Get Creative with Your Security Questions
When you’re asked to answer security questions to protect your account (i.e., What was the name of your grammar school?), get creative with your answers instead of being so truthful. Again, the more information stored about you, the more your life will be affected by a data breach or hacking attack.
Thanks to social media, hackers can piece together large chunks of your life, and therefore guess your passwords easier than you may think. So if you use your mother’s maiden name as a security question, chances are a hacker could find out your password by using one of your mother’s embarrassing throwback photos from her Facebook or Instagram account. Instead of giving the hackers your mother’s maiden name, give them anything else.
Just make sure you remember the fake answers you create so you can update your passwords later.
7. Always Say YES to Two-Factor Authentication
Never turn down two-factor authentication if a website is offering it. While this adds an extra step to your ecommerce transaction, it also takes a giant leap towards protecting your identity too. Add two-factor authentication and your website will text you a code (or another similar action) to make sure the user logging in is really you.
When a hacker attempts to login to your account, they hopefully won’t have access to the second authentication method. You’ll be alerted and the fraud will be prevented.
8. Don’t Fall for Discount Scams
Fake websites are one of the fastest growing issues in online shopping. A good rule of thumb is to be wary of any prices that seem too low to be legit. Oftentimes these budget sites are total phonies looking for gullible people to hand over their payment info and never receive anything but misery in return.
Other sites promise to send you promo codes for discounts in exchange for your email address.The codes either don’t work or are expired when you receive them — and you’ll also get tons of spam and phishing emails on the regular too!
Pay special attention to these types of discount sites during the holiday season. Black Friday deals tend to cloud otherwise rational judgement.
9. Look for Trusted Reviews
It’d be amazing if we could filter online customer reviews from people we actually know and opinions we value and trust. In the meantime, you should always look for verified customer reviews before making a purchase so you know the site has actual, satisfied customers.
10. Never Use the Same Password
While it’s easier to remember and use one password for your Uber, Amazon account, and credit card, it’s not cool if a hacker happens to learn it. That’s why it’s considered a cardinal sin to reuse a password.
Think about it: Should a data breach expose your password online, every newbie and pro hacker will be plugging in that password hoping it’s the key to your financial accounts. One exposed password will compromise every account it’s used for, making a recycled password the least safe password possible.
11. Let a Password Manager Remember Your Logins
Since you’re never going to reuse another password again (right?), it’s going to be impossible to remember all of them — especially since strong passwords need to be complicated and lengthy. That’s just one of the real reasons everyone needs a password manager yesterday.
Instead of storing your passwords somewhere where they’re vulnerable, a password manager will encrypt your passwords and enter them when you need them. Easy peasy. Check out our favorite tips for finding the best password manager by this afternoon.
12. Use Different Email Addresses for Different Purposes
With all the scary reasons to stop giving out your email address, you may want to use different emails for different online shopping sites. This way if one site gets hacked, your sensitive data won’t be compromised just because you shared the same email. However, this can get tricky for many people.
While 17% of Americans create a new email address every 6 months and only 30% change email addresses annually, most people don’t go out of their way to manage additional email accounts. That’s why the Joinesty unique email creation feature is so uh-mazing.
Using the Joinesty browser extension’s patent pending technology, you’ll have a unique email for every site you want to use or join. Joinesty will forward any emails you receive directly to your inbox so there won’t be any disruption in the promo offers you receive.That’s just one major reason Joinesty should be your online shopping BFF.
Shop Securely Online with Joinesty, Save Money, and Never Give Out Your Personal Email Again
Joinesty is a secure password manager and so much more. Similar to your browser’s autofill function (though actually safe), Joinesty will save your login information (like your username and password) and fill in your credentials automatically.
Joinesty uses bank-level security to protect your data so your information is encrypted at all times. Your browser probably can’t say that. Plus, Joinesty is the only secure password manager to offer secure email address creation. Now you never have to give out your email address again. As if these features couldn’t get better, you’ll also have an automatic deal finder for all your online shopping.
Whenever you’re on a site, just click the “View Deals” extension for all the current deals available — no need to hunt them down on multiple sites. Click the deal you want and Joinesty will take you there.
You can even find deals using a Google search. Just look for the Joinesty logo in your search results and you’ll know you’ll be saving big.
Joinesty makes the best online shopping partner.It will remember and securely store your passwords, look for discounts and deals automatically, and hide your email address from hackers and cybercriminals hoping to cause harm.
The next time you hear of a data breach, you’ll be totally chill knowing the bad guys won't have your passwords or email address thanks to Joinesty. Secure your accounts. Protect your privacy. Shop safer online.
Start your free 14-day trial of Joinesty and see our secure email address creation feature in action now!