Smart City Telecom Blog

Protecting Yourself While Online Shopping

By Debbie Burke

Shopping has never been more convenient or easier with online shopping.  The selection is endless. Shipping is fast. Returns are easy. But it’s important that you’re not giving up security for convenience. Keeping your information secure is essential when buying online to avoid a stolen identity or wiped-out bank account.

The next time you shop online, follow these tips to ensure your online information is protected, and your purchases are safe.

  1. Shop with merchants you know and trust. Know who you are shopping with and to whom giving your personal information.
  2. Look for “https” in the URL/web address when making an online purchase. This means the website is secure, allowing you to enter your personal and credit card information and complete a purchase without being hacked.
  3. Don’t fall for phishing attacks. Be very careful before clicking on a link, even if it appears to be from a legitimate site, asking you to log in, change your password, or provide any other personal information. When in doubt, manually type the site’s URL in your browser window.
  4. Create a unique username and password for each account you have. This reduces your risk should a hacker crack your login to get access to every account that you use that login for. Vary them by adding unique letters, numbers, or symbols for each account.
  5. Don’t give too much personal information. Retailers don’t need to know your social security number or your birthday. If you feel they are asking for more than you are comfortable sharing, cancel the transaction.
  6. Never use free public Wi-Fi when shopping online. Your data is usually not encrypted. Hackers can create fake Wi-Fi networks, and as soon as you connect to their password-free network, they have complete access to your device.
  7. Don’t use debit online. Use a credit card as there are more consumer protections than using debit cards. Use third-party services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal instead of using your credit card so that you are not giving the retailer your credit card information directly.
  8. Check your statements regularly. Continuously check your credit card and banking accounts for unauthorized activity, especially during the holiday season. Set up email or text message alerts to receive transaction details every time your credit card is used.
  9. Use Multi-Factor Authentication where possible. We recommend using both multi-factor authentication and a strong password whenever possible.
  10. Protect your computer. Keep your devices and software up to date, especially your web browser. Secure your device with anti-virus/anti-malware software and a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Protecting yourself begins with your home network.  Ensure your privacy and security settings are configured, set up a strong password, and turn off any unnecessary features. For more information on 1 Gig Fiber to the Home and data protection, contact Smart City Telecom at 407-828-6700 or visit