Hey guys, if you’re like me, you love to buy things online. In fact, I remember buying 30 Furbies as Christmas presents from Amazon right when they were getting started. Unfortunately, online e-commerce websites can be built by anyone, practically overnight and they can look really official! There are a few things you need to look out for is when it’s time to pay for whatever you’re buying. Although your web browser may be showing a green lock at the top of the menu bar, your payment can be sucked away by the site, which could even be a phishing website. In fact according to FBI’s latest Internet Crime report, 84,079 complaints were filed with the FBI in 2017 – more than any other type of cybercrime. Even if you think that you’re ordering something from what looks like a reputable website, there is still a good chance that you could be giving over your password or personal data to a criminal. To help you out, we’ve put together 3 tips to consider before typing in your credit card number:
1. How up-to-date is the computer you’re using?
When was the last time your operating system was updated? What about your web browser? Vulnerabilities are regularly found in Windows, Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Office, Adobe and pretty much every program on your computer. The good news is that manufacturers often patch their software pretty quickly after a vulnerability is found. But, if you don’t update, you stay unprotected! Often we come across malware and that sneaks into Windows or even the web browser you’re using to steal keystrokes. That includes payment information, passwords and personal information. So, do your updates.
2. How protected is your computer?
Next, let’s talk about your security software. It’s best practice to protect your laptop, computer, mobile phone, tablet, and any device that connects to the Internet. Many of these programs (including ours) will censor you from phishing websites that are trying to harvest your personal data. Whatever you use, make sure that it’s on and up-to-date. Criminals are always finding new ways to infect computer systems and if you don’t update, the application you’re using won’t be able to detect them.
3. How trustworthy is the site you’re using?
Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, Home Depot and Best Buy are well known, reputable brands. If you’re trying to buy from a site that’s not so well known, it’s best to pay using a 3rd party processor such as PayPal instead of paying the stranger directly. A 3rd party generally vets their merchants and gives you a way to recover your money if your product is never delivered.
So, in short, make sure that your computer and security software is kept up to date and if you’re buying from a small online vendor, use a 3rd party processor to protect yourself. And of course, if a site looks suspicious, feel free to send over the url and we’ll take a look at it for you.
Stay safe out there.