6 Tips to Protect Yourself While Online Shopping in 2019

Last Updated by Sarah Barnes on January 28, 2019

Online shopping can leave your credit card and bank details open to hackers. Take advantage of a VPN to protect yourself while shopping online. stay safe online According to Statista, more than 1.66 billion consumers bought goods online in 2017 alone. Not only this, global retail sales peaked at $2.3 trillion and experts expect this number to grow to $4.48 trillion by 2021. But, with so many people making their way to the internet to buy their products, hackers and scammers are on the prowl and are increasing at a phenomenal rate.

Hackers tap into your device and steal your personal information. From there, they can find out your name, address, and even your bank details. But, they’re not the only ones that can gain access to your data.

Scammers also create fake websites to fool shoppers online. They pretend to sell you goods and instead of sending you your products, they steal your identity and bank details to take the money from your accounts.

Top Online Shopping Tips

With the above in mind, it’s essential that you protect yourself when shopping online. Here are 6 tips you should follow:

1 Always Do Your Research

Before you share your personal information with a website, do your research. If you want to buy products from a new website, read what other consumers think of it. You can do this by reading online reviews.

Once you know that the website is safe, read their policies. Check their return and refund procedures. Also, make sure you read all the information on the website so that you know what to expect if you’re not happy with your purchase.

2 Keep Your Personal Information Safe

You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and give them your bank details, and the same goes for online platforms. When sharing personal information with e-commerce platforms, be aware of the information they’re asking for. If you believe that the vendor is asking for information they don’t need to process the order, steer clear of them.
vpn safe shopping online

3 Keep Your Devices Clean

The reason applications and other software provides updates is to reduce the risk of malware making its way onto your device. With this in mind, it’s important you keep your phone, tablet, and computer updated. Also, invest in an antivirus package.

4 Fortify Your Online Accounts

If you want to stay safe when shopping online, you must enable the strongest authentication tools on your devices. Some of these include:

  • Security keys
  • Biometrics
  • Authenticator applications that give you unique one-time codes

Remember that no matter how unique your usernames and passwords are, they’re not enough to keep you safe online. That being said, you should choose strong passwords for your accounts.

Your password should be:

  • A sentence that is at least 12 characters long
  • A mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols
  • Include both lowercase and uppercase letters

Also, make sure you create a unique username and password for each of your individual accounts, if possible.

5 Get Savvy With Your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Settings

Certain locations monitor consumer activity by looking for devices with their Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on. With this in mind, make sure that your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are always off when not in use.

Additionally, avoid sharing personal information when using a public Wi-Fi network. For example, try to avoid connecting to your email or online banking accounts. These locations are prime spots for hackers. Also, make sure you limit external access to your phone by adjusting your security settings.

6 Use a VPN

If you truly want to stay safe online, you should use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN allows you to connect to the internet via a server in a location of your choosing. By doing so, hackers and other prying eyes can’t steal any personal information from your device.

Not only this, but because a VPN allows you to appear as if you’re in a different location, you may find better prices. This is especially relevant for flights and hotels. You may also gain cheaper access to gaming and video streaming platforms.

Top 3 VPNs To Use When Shopping Online

Not all VPNs are the same. With this in mind, it’s important you choose one that will keep you safe under all circumstances.

Here are our top 3 recommendations:

1NordVPN

NordVPN
Key features:

  • Military-grade encryption
  • Double VPN
  • Protects 6 devices simultaneously

NordVPN is available on all devices including iOS, Android, Linux, and Windows. The company has a strict no logs policy, as well as DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch.

Plus, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get it Now

2CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN
Key features:

  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • DNS and leak protection
  • Strict no logs policy

CyberGhost VPN allows you to protect up to 7 devices with just one account. The company has applications for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, and routers.

It also comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

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3ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN
Key features:

  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Strict no logs policy
  • An automatic kill switch

ExpressVPN has application for all devices as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. This VPN also supports other devices such as Apple and Fire TV.

ExpressVPN also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Final Thought

If you want to stay safe while shopping online, it’s important that you use all of the tools available.

While creating strong passwords and avoiding public Wi-Fi hotspots will reduce your chances of encountering scammers, a VPN is the only way you can truly stay safe and secure online.

Sarah Barnes
Sarah is a security writer who believes that people are entitled to a high level of online privacy. She specializes in managing digital projects for small to medium businesses from various industries.