Online Shopping: Tips to Help Safeguard Your Info

At the same time, online shopping can lead to invasions of privacy, data leaks, and stolen information. Fortunately, there are simple steps to help you to avoid such problems. Here are a few things to look out for if you’re a senior shopper looking to feel more confident and secure online.

Protect your payments

When purchasing items, a worthwhile extra step is paying through a secure option such as PayPal, an online account that helps safeguard your data and monitors all transactions. Opening a PayPal account allows you to have your bank accounts and cards all in one place and often makes checking out even quicker and easier. If there’s ever an issue with fraud, items not being delivered or arriving damaged, PayPal allows buyers to open a dispute and typically issues a refund.

Other protected ways to pay are ApplePay or AfterPay. Similar to PayPal, ApplePay stores your bank accounts and cards in one place using an encrypted network. On your Apple devices, you can use ApplePay to pay for items. AfterPay links to your bank account or card and will allow you to pay in separate installments.

Don’t take the bait

Phishing may sound like a fun day out on the water, but, in reality, phishing is the illegal act of sending an email or text message to trick users into giving away their private information. While browsing online, you could receive an email disguised as an urgent message requesting information. Think of these as the 21st-century telemarketers, but worse. The good news is that only 1 out of 10 phishing emails are not caught or otherwise verified.

A phishing email or text may be a message asking you to log in to an online shopping account to reset a password, asking for your bank account information or stating that a package of yours is being tracked.

Phishing emails will often include spelling and grammar errors, as well as attachments such as photos or website links. Some links could prompt you to “sign in” to your bank account. These could be a virus and it is best to not click them.

Additionally, if an email or text is sent with a heightened sense of urgency, requires money and account information or states that it is from your bank, it is most likely a scam. Before you take any action,  ask a trusted family member, friend or neighbor for a second opinion.

Say no to cookies

These are not your favorite fresh-from-the-oven cookies. These cookies are small pieces of data, and while you won’t gain any calories from them, it is best to stay away. We know this might feel confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it you'll be shopping safely and getting all the conveniences of online ordering.

When you visit a website, there might be a message that pops up on the screen asking you about “cookies”. Most people quickly hit the “accept” button to get it out of their way and continue browsing. However, by taking a few extra minutes to change your cookie preferences, you can take steps to help ensure that your information is not being sold to advertisers. This will help prevent your electronic devices from being bombarded with ads.

Next to the “accept” button, there will be another option. It could be "reject," "preferences" or "manage my cookies." By clicking one of those options, a new page will appear, informing you of any data that is being collected. This data may be sold by the website to companies to advertise according to the viewers' online habits.

For example, if you are looking online at shirts to buy, then decide to go to a different website, advertisements from previously viewed websites may load onto your new pages.

These promotions will be able to pop up on every device — phone, laptop and tablet. They are not, however, dangerous. Seeing an ad while shopping online is normal. This method of rejecting cookies may help to lower the number of ads that you see.

If you’d like to learn more about cookies, check out the documentary, “The Great Hack” on Netflix.

Be in control of your own security

If you’re shopping online with an insecure connection, it may be possible for anyone to access your data and payment information. Luckily, there are easy ways to see if the sites you are browsing and purchasing from are secure.

It is important to know if the websites you visit are secure, meaning the wrong people won’t be able to easily steal your data. If the website is secure, typically only companies that have gone through a legal process can obtain your data.

Secure sites will always have the "S" in "HTTPS:" at the beginning of the site’s URL. If sites are only "HTTP:" they are not secure sites. To see this measure of security, click the website link located at the top of the screen. It will be the first letters at the very beginning of the link. Many search engines, such as Google Chrome or Safari, will have a small padlock symbol next to the website link, which also indicates the website is secure.

Don't let this all scare you — online shopping is a great way to get the things you need from the safety of your home. The more you know, the better shopping experience you will have and the better shopper you will become!

Check out our webinar on digital security for more info. 

The above content is shared for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional or financial advice and should not be relied upon for making financial or other decisions. Please consult your attorney or financial advisor before acting on any content on this website.

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