Shopping online has dozens of advantages over traditional shopping: it can be easier to compare deals, to shop at different retailers, you typically have access to more product options, and you can shop from the comfort of your living room.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that individuals at brick and mortar stores can steal your information, too; it’s just much less statistically likely. And in an age where roughly half of the adults in the U.S. are hacked every six months, it’s important to find the safest way to pay when shopping around online.
Verify The Security of the Online Retailer
A quick way to start protecting yourself is to make certain that the retailer is using the recommended protections before making a purchase.
One of the easiest ways which retailers can help protect you is to use HTTPS encryptions to obfuscate the payment data you transmit from potential hackers. If you see an ‘https’ before the url of the online store you want to shop at, then you can be reasonably certain that it’s secure.
Another thing to look for is security seals, which mean that the website has been verified to use or is using additional security measures.
You can often find these on the payment gateways of online retailers, or posted prominently in the footer of the website.
Use Payment Applications
Another great way to pay safely while shopping online is to use third-party payment applications like Google Wallet, Paypal, Paywhere Connect, or Pay Via Amazon. These third-party applications keep and store your payment information behind additional levels of security, and often obfuscate sensitive information even from the retailer you’re paying.
Consider Using Credit Cards
Credit cards often offer an additional layer of protection all on their own. Most credit card companies have very strong fraud protection methods, and unlike many traditional debit cards, it can be much less of a hassle to get unauthorized charges reversed.
Consider Using Gift Cards
Using gift cards for online purchases is another way to help protect yourself. While they might cost a small amount of money to buy (typically around $3-$5), that fee can be a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Shopping online always comes with a risk… but you can absolutely work to minimize that risk. For example, only shopping at websites with appropriate security measures can help protect your payment information online.