Shopping online can be fun and convenient, and it can even save you a lot of money if you take advantage of sales and other promotions. But it’s also important to be cautious when you shop online so that you don’t compromise your finances. After all, shopping online often means inputting very important information, such as credit card and/or bank account information. If you’re an online shopper, you’ll want to keep the following tips in mind:
Avoid using a debit card
If you have the choice between using your debit card and using a credit card, opt for your credit card. Online shopping is one of the many benefits of having a credit card. You can use it the same way as you would use your debit card; all you have to do is pay off your balance in full after your purchase if you’re worried about getting into debt. If your card information ever falls into the wrong hands (for example, if a hacker steals customer data from the website), it’s better that they have your credit card information, and not your debit card information. After all, your debit card is linked to your bank account. Once that money is gone, it may be very difficult to dispute and recover, and it could be gone forever. With fraudulent credit card charges, however, disputing is often a much simpler process. While it can still be very frustrating, the financial implications usually won’t be as serious.
Don’t store your financial information
Many online retailers will give customers the option of creating accounts that make it easier for them to shop again. When you create these accounts, you’ll often have a username and password, you’ll store your shipping address, and you’ll also have the option to store your credit card information. It may be a bit of a hassle if it’s a website you order from frequently, but avoid storing this information. Even though credit card information is encrypted, there is still a risk of that stored information falling into the wrong hands if someone is able to get into your account, or if the entire website’s secure connection is breached.
Pick your password carefully
Whether you do store important information or not when ordering online, some e-commerce sites will require that customers create an account. Just like with any other account you create online, it’s important to pick a very strong password that would be impossible for anyone to guess or very difficult for a hacker to crack. It is especially important to put a lot of thought into a password that can be linked to any of your financial information.
Use a secure connection
Ideally, you’ll want to save online shopping for when you’re using your password-protected Internet at home. If you’re using a public Internet connection, opt for one that is ideally password protected as well. Either way, you’ll always want to make sure that the connection is also secured on their end. Check the address bar of the URL you’re ordering from before inputting any important financial information, such as your credit card number, and make sure the website address begins with an “https” rather than just an “http.”