The convenience of ecommerce has opened the door to a world of potential when it comes to shopping. These days, you can buy everything from clothing and groceries to homes and vehicles online! Shopping online is a great way to get what you need, without setting foot in a store.
But it’s not without its risks. When making purchases, keep your guard up to protect yourself from cybercriminals who are looking for opportunities to take advantage of online shoppers.
Get Familiar with Common Scams
Online shopping is a common target for bad actors because it’s rooted in financial transaction. You’ll need to put in banking or credit card information to complete the purchase—or link a financial account to facilitate payment. This is exactly the opportunity scammers are looking for.
Here are four common scams to watch out for:
- Fraudulent websites set up by scammers are designed to trick online shoppers into entering personal or financial information.
- Phishing scams lure victims with deals or offers that encourage you to click on malicious links that capture sensitive information.
- Malicious ads attempt to get you to open a pop-up advertisement that installs malicious software on your computer.
- Data breaches can occur when cybercriminals intercept transaction information or customer data from shopping websites that aren’t encrypted or secured.
7 Ways to Stay Safe Online
Online shoppers may be prime targets for scammers, but there are plenty of ways to protect yourself against malicious attempts to steal your data. Here are some of the simplest (and best) ways to stay safe while you shop online:
- Set up alerts. Sign up for email or mobile alerts for your accounts. That way, you’ll be alerted of unusual activity on your accounts.
- Shop on legitimate websites. Stay safe by shopping with reputable companies you know. With so many sites out there, you may find an item you want for an amazing price. But if it looks too good to be true, it likely is. Keep to sites that are well known for their positive customer service practices.
- Check the URL. When shopping online, always look for a padlock icon in the search bar. That indicates the website is secure. Be sure the site URL begins with https://, rather than just http://. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates that data transmitted is encrypted.
- Use secure connections. When you connect with a public Wi-Fi network, your transactions can be easily intercepted by hackers. Don’t shop online while using public Wi-Fi. Use a virtual private network (VPN) or your phone’s mobile hotspot instead.
- Safeguard your devices. Use strong passwords and biometric features (fingerprint or face recognition authentication) to secure your computer and mobile devices. Install anti-virus software to protect your computer and mobile phone. Set your preferences to automatically update software.
- Click with caution. Avoid phishing scams by not opening emails, responding to text messages or clicking on links from sources you don't know. Be careful—even with emails and text messages that appear to be sent from retailers you know, especially if something seems off. Go directly to the retailer’s website instead of following a link.
- Monitor your accounts. Review your transactions on your checking account and credit card statements to verify that the charges are correct. Close monitoring of your accounts can help you spot any unauthorized transactions quickly.
Notify your financial institution immediately if you suspect fraudulent activity. Acting fast to report and resolve the issue can help you get back on track. If you suspect fraudulent activity while shopping online, contact Navy Federal immediately to report the fraud.
Working With You to Prevent Fraud
Navy Federal uses fraud-monitoring and built-in security features to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts. Together, we can work to stop fraud and keep your accounts safe. Visit our Security Center to learn more about how we protect your information.
- Check to make sure your connection to any online retail website is safe (https://) and that you’re shopping with a reputable brand or company—not a secondhand seller or an unknown source.
- Make sure you’re always shopping from a secure personal device, and that you’re using a secure network such as a VPN. Never shop online using public Wi-Fi—use your phone’s secure hotspot instead.
- Set up fraud alerts and take the time to monitor your online accounts after making online purchases. Look for any suspicious activity, such as unknown charges, multiple charges from the sale retailer or cancelled charges.
This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.