Three tips to help you protect your money online

The internet is a profoundly useful resource, having made life vastly more convenient in a number of now-indispensable ways.

One of the more fundamental changes the ubiquity of the internet has brought relates to shopping; according to recent statistics, as many as 87% of us use an online platform to buy a product each year.

New technology breeds new problems, though – chiefly, concerning money. As online platforms have increased in popularity, so too have cybercrime statistics increased in number.

So, what should you be doing to keep yourself and your money safe online? Here are three tips.

1) Use secure sites

Watching where you make online purchases from should be a priority when shopping online – and not for the reason you may think. While it may be true that scammers are getting more sophisticated in their efforts, and that spoofed websites can crop up and defraud customers looking for the ‘real’ site, these scams tend only to target those with much less experience in online spaces. 

What you should be looking out for specifically is the security of the page you are on. Depending on the browser you use, you can tell if a site is secure by observing a padlock icon to the left or right of the URL in the address bar – and if the web address starts with “https://”.

These mean the site is secure, and that any security details shared through it are encrypted. As such, it is much harder for cyber-criminals to skim your information when you make a purchase.

2) Install a VPN

Sometimes, reputable sites can suffer poor online security through no real fault of their own – whether location-based or budgetary concerns, or even being a small operation with little digital nous. To protect yourself from transactions in a wider net, it can be a good idea to encrypt your online presence yourself – through the use of a VPN.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and represents a technique where you can mask your online activity through creating a digital ‘tunnel’ through which you can surf and transact.

VPNs gained popularity in recent years due to their ability to spoof a server location in any country; while a VPN could help you watch American Netflix, it could also keep your money safe when transacting online! When choosing a VPN to protect yourself and your transactions online, it’s important to select the best VPN service available so that you can ensure the highest level of security.

3) Do your research

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you should carry out your own research. This is admittedly vague, but for good reason; there are many dangers inherent to online shopping and digital banking alike, and thousands of solutions that could apply to any one scenario.

Keeping your money safe might mean finding the right place to save it, or filtering safe shopfronts to transact through. In both events, researching any potential vendors or lenders in detail can help you ascertain their trustworthiness.

Here, research means checking their website, reading third-party reviews and looking for any contact information. From here, you could get in touch with an advisor while seeking word-of-mouth recommendations elsewhere.

Sometimes even a simple online search for the name of the prospective business and ‘scam’ can yield useful results. Information is your best friend, and the most useful way to keep your money out of unsafe hands. 

Photo by Austin Distel