Online shopping malls, the newest shopping destinations in the face of the planet composed of 100% electronic goods and shoppers. It may look quite novel for most people but enter unprepared and you just might find yourself ripped off must faster than in the real world.
It’s true, being somewhat new to most of us and thus populated with relatively wide eyed naive people; the internet is fast becoming a melting pot for crooks, thieves and criminals out for easy targets. The absence of any sort of internet police also doesn’t help.
Nevertheless, knowing nothing about the complexities of cyberspace doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re weaponless against these kinds of people. Armed with a bit of cyber smarts, you can even pass for a local in this electronic frontier.
Cyber Smarts Start at Home
Nobody goes into the wilderness without some sort of survival kit, which is why you must be equipped with the basic tools and weapons before making your first foray into this world. Here’s what your Cyber switch knife should contain and what they are for:
Anti-virus: Against online Viruses that may corrupt your files and make your computer
vulnerable to other malicious software.
Anti-Spyware: Protection against software that could monitor your online transactions
and hack personal data from your computer.
Firewall: Your computer’s security guard against intrusions from outside your network.
With these three basic tools, you can improve your online security a lot and make it much safer to shop online.
Know who you Deal With
The advent of online shopping has made it a lot harder for people to verify who they are dealing with. One thing most people forget to do before going on an online shopping spree is to check the credibility and reliability of the online store. Remember unlike a shopping mall in the real world which may have cost millions of dollars to build, online shopping malls can be built for as low as a hundred dollars maybe even less. Moreover, anyone can build these sites for whatever purposes they might have.
For this reason, do a little background check before paying for the products. Does the website contact information include an address and a customer service contact number? If not, chances are the store is not a legitimate one. You can also look up Better Business Bureau to cross check the address written on the website.
It wouldn’t hurt too to use low risk cards for online transactions. For this reason use credits cards with low maximum withdrawable balances. This way, if someone gets through and hacks your account, you will only lose a small amount of money. Refrain from using debit cards for your online transactions too as debit cards have less protection against fraud.
Likewise, stay away from online stores that ask for your social security number as a prerequisite or requirement before making an online purchase, this is because online merchants do not need this information to process a sale. Moreover, refrain from sending sensitive information to merchants asking for your bank account number and password. Some of the letters they may send might look official but keep in mind that passwords are never meant to be shared.
Make sure that the site is secure. You can check this by looking if the RL has an s after http. The presence of this letter means the site is encrypted and thus all information that passes through will be protected. Moreover, check if the website has a padlock or key icon, an open padlock or a broken key symbolizes an unsecured site vice versa.