How to stay safe and secure when shopping online

The holidays are fast approaching, and October marks this year's Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This week's security topic revolves around how to shop safely online. We've got a few great tips to improve the security of your browsing habits when perusing the online marketplace this season.  

Stay updated
One of the easiest and most effective methods to keep your online shopping secure is to regularly update your Web browser and antivirus software. Whether you prefer Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox, all browsers come with autoupdate features included. Be sure to turn these on to keep your browser as up to date and protected against malware and viruses as possible. 

If you don't have secondary antivirus software installed on your computer, it is an investment well worth the cost. Among PCWorld's list of well-tested and trustworthy antivirus programs are GData Internet Security, Bitdefender and Norton Internet Security.

Search the seller
While most online shopping occurs via large reputable marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay, other options certainly exist. When shopping on a lesser-known marketplace - possibly for some sort of specialty item not available on a larger site - CNET highly recommends doing some initial research before going straight to purchase. Typically, reviews and reports can be found from organizations like Business News Daily, such as this article on Etsy alternatives

"Leaving your computer on and actively talking to the Internet leaves it open to 24-hour access."

Shut down when you're done
StaySafeOnline suggests shutting down your computer or device after an online transaction is completed. Leaving your computer on and actively connected to the Internet allows it 24-hour access to other users on the Web. This can leave your information vulnerable to scammers, giving them the opportunity to install malware and commit cybercrimes. Shut your computer down after shopping: It's better to be safe than sorry.

Signs and symbols to look for
Arguably the most important tip to remember when shopping online is to keep an eye out for several several key security symbols. According to Fox News, chief among these is a little padlock. 

The padlock is actually a small in-browser icon, which most Internet browsers display either at the bottom or top of your Web browser, next to the URL bar. The symbol will appear once you've navigated to most checkout pages, where secure personal information needs to be filled out. Your browser's URL should display as "HTTPS://" instead of "HTTP://" as it appears on unsecured, unencrypted sites. Never input any personal information or proceed with a transaction from an unsecured Web page.  

Additionally, any suspicious activity can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission by emailing [email protected], according to Landmark Bank. 

For more information about smart ways to manage your finances, contact Landmark Bank. 

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