How to shop online safely

(NC) Online shopping is a fun, convenient way to purchase items for yourself, and even gifts for others, right from the comfort of your home. Many brick-and-mortar stores have adapted to this way of shopping, and a growing number of businesses are online only.

But with so many options to choose from, sometimes making a purchase online can be overwhelming, and it can be confusing trying to find a reputable seller to buy from.

Unfortunately, like most things on the internet, online shopping can pose a lot of cybersecurity risks. Here are a few clues that a shopping site may not be trustworthy:

  • The site looks poorly designed, unprofessional and contains broken links – those that are clickable but take you to a blank page rather than a fully functional website.
  • You can't find an address or phone number for the business.
  • Sales, return and privacy policies are hard to find or unclear.
  • The back button is disabled. In other words, you get stuck on a page and can't go back.
  • You're asked for credit card information anytime other than when you are making a purchase.

It might not always be clear when an online store is legitimate or not, but there are some steps you can take to make sure you’re making purchases safely.

  • Shop only on secure Wi-Fi networks, not public internet. Unsecured Wi-Fi can allow hackers to compromise your device and payment information.
  • Don’t allow sites to store your information. Leaving your personal details, passwords and payment information on a website can make it easier for cybercriminals to access it.
  • Review your credit card statements regularly for any unauthorized or suspicious purchases.
  • Only use secure websites, like websites whose URL begins with “https://”.
  • Only buy from websites that you trust.

Find more information and resources to help you protect against cyber threats at

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