Canadians are online shopping more than ever before.
According to Canada Post, 21 million Canadians (80% of the population) made at least one online purchase in 2015 and 10% made more than 24 online purchases within the year.
Online shopping always carry some risk, but there are many things you can do to increase your security on the internet.
Here are 10 simple ways to protect yourself when online shopping.
1. Surf securely
Always use websites that begin with https:// instead of http://. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. Do not trust websites without the ‘s’ after ‘http’ at the start of the website address.
2. Pay securely
Use a reputable third-party pay service like PayPal, Moneris or Payfirma for online transactions whenever possible. These sites provide secure transactions.
3. Avoid public WiFi
Avoid using public WiFi when online shopping, especially networks that are open and don’t have passwords. Only shop over a secured internet connection.
4. Update your software
Make sure your browser, antivirus and firewall software, operating system and mobile apps are all up to date. New computer viruses are circulated every day and the best way to stay ahead of the curve is to install regular updates.
5. Don’t remember
Don’t allow your computer (or tablet or phone) to remember your usernames or passwords. It is convenient, but if anyone steals your computer they would have access to your personal and payment card information.
6. Keep them guessing
Another convenient yet dangerous habit is using the same username and password for all your online accounts. Choose passwords that are hard to guess and change them at least every 6 months.
7. Check your statements
Check your banking and credit card statements regularly for discrepancies.
8. Monitor your credit
You can pay for a credit monitoring service from companies like Equifax and TransUnion. Any unexpected, major changes in your score could signal identity theft and you should pull copies of your credit reports to investigate. Learn how to read your credit report in 5 easy steps.
9. Use a credit card
A credit card can offer more protection for online shoppers than a debit card. Read the fine print on your credit card agreements to learn about the protections and limitations each offers, including fraud and liability protection. This way you can choose the best card for online shopping. Learn more about the differences between credit cards and debit cards.
10. Use one credit card
Use only one credit card for online shopping. This limits exposure to fraud and theft of your payment card information and makes monitoring easier.
Dealing with the aftermath of identity theft can be a nightmare, so it’s important to take steps now to keep your personal and payment information safe.
Stay tuned for my next post on what to do if you are a victim of identity theft.