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How to protect your identity while shopping online

How to protect your identity while shopping online

5/12/2014

The world of e-commerce has made shopping more convenient than ever before. And with some online vendors offering free shipping options, many consumers are realizing that purchasing goods on the Web can be more cost-effective than driving to the mall and buying items in-store. According to Internet Retailer, an eMarketer report forecast that from 2014 to 2017, e-retail sales in the United States will increase at a compound annual growth rate of about 14 percent. Researchers estimated that Americans' online purchases will total $434.2 billion in 2017.

Perhaps the one major downside of online shopping is that consumers could be put at risk of identity theft. Mobile shoppers must be particularly cautious with regard to fraud, as there are a number of unique threats that target smartphones and tablets, such as text phishing scams and malware apps.

Be sure to keep these security tips in mind when shopping online:

Check for encryption protection
There are several key indicators that could help consumers determine whether or not a website is secure. First, shoppers should check to see that the URL begins with "https," not "http." CNN also advised online shoppers to look for a small lock icon located in the address bar, as this denotes that there is a secure sockets layer connection. A webpage might be marked with an additional security seal, such as a McAfee trustmark, that verifies that a third party has determined the site is safe. 

Stay on the safe side with personal information
Before entering personal or credit card information online, consumers should review a site's privacy policy carefully. They may want to steer clear of any vendors that make excessive requests for personal data. Additionally, it is advisable for online shoppers to simply ignore emails that ask them to confirm their purchases or enter additional information. As the National Cyber Security Alliance pointed out, legitimate e-commerce vendors do not collect account information through email.

Use passcode protection
According to CNN, only 54 percent of Americans have implemented passcodes on their phones or tablets. This security measure is a simple but highly crucial one. Without passcode protection, phone thieves could easily gain access to mobile users' personal data and make unauthorized purchases. Additionally, individuals should make sure that their online passwords cannot be easily guessed. McAfee recommended creating a password that is at least 10 characters long and mixes letters, numbers and symbols.

Use credit cards rather than debit cards
Many credit card companies offer reimbursement for transactions made on fraudulent sites. And unlike debit cards, credit cards often have caps on the amount of money that individuals are accountable for paying if they are affected by identity theft.

As the e-commerce market grows, cybercriminals are going to step up their efforts to steal online shoppers' information. Fraud victims probably won't find their mobile phone insurance providers to be much help when it comes to recovering a stolen identity. Fortunately, ProtectCELL's identity protection program offers the kind of security that cell phone insurance can't provide. The plan secures personal information and allows fraud victims to quickly restore their identities.

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