Do you think your data is safe while shopping online? Think again…

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As the holiday shopping season gains momentum, many consumers are turning to online retailers for their gift purchases. Concerns about staffing shortages and COVID-19 protocols are factors driving shoppers out of stores and onto the internet.

As a result, merchants are rapidly shifting to e-commerce, and more sensitive information is being processed and stored for online purchases — this indicates that cybersecurity threats could remain prevalent.

A recent analysis on the state of secure online holiday shopping sheds light on consumer views of cybersecurity. This survey was released by international technology services company NTT Ltd., which manages online security systems for businesses. Its data indicates that the benefits of online shopping outweigh the security risks for consumers, even for those who’ve previously had their personal information exposed.

Shoppers naive to online risk

When asked about threats to the future, consumers in a separate survey said they were more concerned about cybercrimes than pandemics or global warming for future generations. But that doesn’t mean they have a clear understanding of how to stay safe from these threats.

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Despite roughly a fourth of respondents telling NTT they’ve experienced credit card or identity theft due to online shopping, 58% still feel that their data is protected when shopping online.

The majority of respondents (57%) say they feel more secure storing their credit card information in retail mobile apps than on e-commerce sites (19%). This indicates a false notion that it’s safe to allow any retailer to store your payment information, whether in an app or not.

Only 25% of respondents say they would stop doing business with a retailer that experienced a security breach — though that number increases to 46% among those who would leave if their credit card information was compromised.

What shoppers are doing right

Despite having some misconceptions about online shopping security, consumers also report taking important safety measures to protect their information. According to the survey:

  • 76% check to ensure that e-commerce websites have a secure HTTPS connection
  • 73% rarely or never click advertisements, emails or social media promotions that offer a deal
  • 63% don’t shop while connected to a public Wi-Fi network
  • 51% use two-factor authentication

These steps alone could help defend against some of the most common online scams. According to the FBI, sticking to secure websites and avoiding promotional emails and special offers are among the best measures to prevent your credit card information from being compromised.

Other important safety measures include:

  • Using unique and complex passwords for each of your accounts
  • Making online purchases with a credit card rather than a debit card (credit cards aren’t tied to your cash accounts and purchases made with credit can be disputed more easily)

Still, NTT notes that merchants themselves can also help protect customer safety and reduce their liability for the fallout of a potential data breach by investing in improved security for their online applications.

Methodology

The data is derived from a SurveyMonkey Audience survey conducted by NTT Application Security from Oct. 5 to Oct. 6, 2021, among 1,057 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older.

This article originally appeared on ValuePenguin and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

More from MediaFeed:

Watch out for these online shopping scam red flags

Shopping online? Watch out for these scam red flags

The ads pop up on your Facebook newsfeed and your favorite online news websites, just enticing enough for you to click to find out more. With a troubled economy, plenty of companies are going out of business, so it may seem smart to save money on clothing or other retail goods if a retailer is throwing one last “going out of business” sale.

But what if that online ad offering huge discounts on designer clothing isn’t what it seems? The Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker is getting more reports lately on self-proclaimed going-out-of-business sales “that either don’t exist or don’t live up to the hype,” according to the BBB.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is driving many retailers out of business,” says the BBB. “What’s bad for businesses often means sales for shoppers, but before you jump on deals, make sure you aren’t falling for a con.

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No one can know about every retailer in the world, but if you’re drawn to a clothing ad for a company you’ve never heard of, don’t be too quick to click the checkout button. 

First, look up the company on the BBB website to see what kind of grade it maintains and read reviews. Also perform an online search for the company’s address and phone number to see information what pops up.

Related: 5 of the Weirdest Ways Charities are Raising Financial Aid for COVID-19 

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Any time you see a dress or suit advertised for a price where the retailer couldn’t possibly make any or much of a profit at all, that could be a red flag. At the same time, reputable retailers frequently offer half-price or lower discounts on out-of-season apparel, for example.

In other words, the ad could be a scam or it could just as easily be legit. Always do your online research before purchasing, since some scammers will mail poor-quality clothing or products. “Other times, scammers never intend to send you anything at all,” says the BBB.

AntonioGuillem/istockphoto

If you see an outfit or product you love at a great price, it’s a good idea to read reviews of the item first to gauge overall buyer satisfaction.  If you see review after review obviously written in a way no native English speaker would talk – “all retail happy shop experience,” for example – be careful. 

Those reviews could be planted by the scammer company to reassure you that it is legitimate.

Related: Could You Be a Target of a COVID-19 Extortion Scam?

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When you put the company’s name in a search engine and three pages of consumer rip-off complaints appear in the results, don’t even bother researching that company further. Those people writing bad reviews are warning you to stay away to avoid your own bad experience.

Related: 6 Signs of a COVID-19 Contact Tracing Scam

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The BBB recommends double-checking the retailer’s website address to make sure scammers haven’t directed you to an “imitation site” that looks like the legitimate retailer’s website.

Signs of a possible copycat website include a URL with extra words or characters, a foreign domain address or unusual domains such as those that end with unfamiliar words such as “bargain” or “app,” according to AARP.

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Don’t even think about purchasing from and providing your credit card number to an online retailer whose web address doesn’t begin with “https://,” which signals that your credit or debit card information is secure. Also make sure the address has a lock icon on the purchase page.

This article by Deb Hipp originally appeared on Debt.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

AAUB / istockphoto

Featured Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

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