Quick Tips

Quick Tip: 4 Ways to Stay Safe Shopping Online

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Who doesn’t love the convenience of online shopping? There’s no need to drive to a crowded mall, no need to get stopped by kiosk salesmen wanting to pitch their products, no need to wait in line to check out.

Largely, consumers are feeling the same way. E-commerce has grown in the last decade, most recently increasing by 16.4 percent from the first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, according to the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce. And it’s only projected to go up from there.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and Windstream is celebrating by giving you and your family tips on staying safe when using your Kinetic Internet. Today, we’re tackling ways to protect your information when shopping online so you don’t become an identity theft victim.

1. Look for Reputable Retailers

Make sure you’re buying from the intended retailer. Look out for variations in a website, such as using a .net versus a .com or misspellings in the URL, particularly when you got to the site through a search engine.

If you’re browsing through sites like Amazon, eBay or Etsy, read through the product description, refund and return policies and seller details, including reviews.

And be weary of deals that seem too good to be true, such as an iPhone X for $150!

Lastly, reputable retailers should never prompt you for information they don’t need, like your social security number or your birthday (unless you’re signing up for a rewards program). If you get emails that appear to be from a reputable retailer, it may be a phishing attempt.

2. Check the Reputable Retailers’ Website Security

How do you know the retailers’ website is secure? Simply, look for a padlock to the left of the URL or for the “S” after “http.” The padlock should be on the browser window, not on the website itself, and the “S” on “https” signifies encryption between a web server and a browser.

3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi and Public Computers

Do not give out sensitive information — like credit card numbers for online shopping — on public computers or public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi includes the one you’re using at the coffee shop, and even password-protected ones at a hotel.

That deal you’re trying to snag can likely wait until you get home. Or if it really can’t wait, use a hotspot on your mobile phone.

4. Up Your Password Game

Depending on how often you shop online, you may be creating an account so you won’t have to fish out your credit or debit card and enter that 16-digit code every single time. If so — and we can’t stress it enough — choose a strong password!

Once you’ve bought your item, don’t forget to log out of the account. And if you’re worried about your bank accounts, keep an eye on your financial statements to check the amount of your transaction.

And if you’re a Windstream customer, check out our three different Shield packages — all with personal identity theft protection and monitoring through CreditGuard and antivirus/malware protection with McAfee — for your Kinetic Internet.