Top Online Shopping Security Threats and Tips on How to Avoid Them
Updated on February 16, 2023
Online shopping is one of the most convenient inventions for our daily lives. We no longer have to go to the mall, wait in line, or carry heavy bags; now it only takes a few clicks – and voila! Your purchase is on its way. So it’s no wonder that the number of worldwide online buyers increases year by year. In 2023, it stood at 2.64 billion, and by 2025 it is expected to reach 2.77 billion people. Moreover, 34.5% of Americans purchase goods online at least once a week. Are you one of them?
When it comes to online shopping, the first thing that concerns most of us is how to buy cheaper. However, we believe there is another important question that we should ask ourselves: how to purchase more safely? While the low price saves your money, secure online shopping protects you from identity theft, which would otherwise cost you quite a bit. That’s why VPN Unlimited team prepared this list of the most common online shopping security threats and tips on how to avoid them.
What are the risks?
Judging from our research, online shopping security threats can be divided into the following groups:
- Fakes. Some online shopping sites are not always as legit as they try to look. This can show in anything: from dubious websites to counterfeit goods. In the best-case scenario, such online shops just sell fake clothes and buy online reviews. In the worst case, they pretend to be real shops but are actually fraudsters who want to steal your money or sensitive information. And, obviously, they never actually send your purchase.
- Phishing. We’re talking about suspicious links which thieves send to you by email. It may look like an ordinary mailing from, say, H&M. But upon closer inspection, you will be able to spot some mistakes in the address, which means that the links most probably lead to a phishing website. These are quite dangerous for your online security, as seen from our previous article.
- Unsecured public WiFi. If you are a coffee drinker, you probably spend a lot of time in coffee shops. As a result, you are likely to connect to public WiFi hotspot and do your shopping on the go. Unfortunately, public WiFi hotspots carry a high risk of you getting hacked and losing your money (we’ve recently told our readers about this topic). That’s why when you pay for your purchase on the go, entering your credit card data can lead you down a very dangerous path.
How to protect yourself?
Luckily, there are ways to make your online shopping safe and secure.
- Be skeptical. Are you sure this website or email address is not fake? Are these online reviews too good to be true? Isn’t the price too low for the Gucci? We suggest you to think twice before clicking any links or ordering anything from an unknown shop. Check the validity of the testimonials if it’s possible. And don’t be shy to ask questions to their salespeople if you have any doubts.
- Don’t give shops more private information than necessary. Here you should pay attention to your gut and common sense. Online shops don’t have to know, say, your insurance policy number in order to deliver your purchase. All they need to know usually is the delivery location, your name, and payment information if you pay for the purchase online.
- Use credit card instead of debit for payment. It’s quite simple, banks protect their money much better than yours. And since it’s the bank’s money on the line, you can report fraudulent activity on your credit card during one (sometimes even two) months. Whereas debit cards only give you about a 2 or 7-day window.
- Create different passwords for each site. This way, even if one of your passwords gets compromised, it won’t give cybercriminals full access to all your other accounts.
- Use VPN software. A virtual private network like VPN Unlimited will encipher all your private data. It utilizes highly secure 256-bit encryption so that no cybercriminal can decode your data and steal your identity and sensitive info. This is how VPN Unlimited team grants you secure online shopping.