Digital Privacy: Protecting yourself while shopping online

After a number of high-profile hacks and stolen credit cards, is online shopping safe anymore?

It's no secret — more Americans are opting to shop online. A recent Pew research survey found 79% of us have made some purchase on the internet. But, after a number of high-profile hacks and stolen credit cards, is online shopping safe anymore?

Online shopping is like shooting fish in a barrel for stay-at-home dad Dave Musser.

Loading ...

Musser plays with his son at The Clubhouse inside The Missouri History Museum, “I’m hungry, I’m going to catch a fish."

He explained how tough it can be to run errands or shop with a toddler.

"You only get one shot with a 3-year-old. There's no going back to the store, unless you really, really are having a good day,” he laughed.

As Musser said, with his 3-year-old son Josh, good days are never spent shopping in public.

"Yeah, you know it's not easy you know. He's not one of those kids that sits in the cart and lets me shop and get what I need," he said.

Which is why he loves the convenience of shopping online.

"It's just so nice because it buys me more time," he said.

Musser gets clothes, electronics, and household products online. But, instead of using his credit and debit card for purchases, he uses PayPal when he can.

"If you have a problem with your purchase, PayPal will give you your money back and deal with the sellers outside of you," Messer explained.

If he can't use his PayPal account, Messer says he never saves his info on any retailers website.

"Yeah, that makes me really nervous. You kind of have that feeling whenever you put your credit card somewhere new. Well, I don't really know you, we haven't developed any trust yet," he said.

Still, Messer says the threat doesn't outweigh the convenience.

"It gives you more time to spend with the ones you love because you’re not out fetching goods," he explained.

Our partners at USA Today have some helpful tips to keep your shopping secure.

  1. Look for the padlock: Always use a secure internet connection when making a purchase. Look for the little padlock in the address bar or an URL that starts with "HTTPS" instead of "HTTP," as the "s" stands for "secure."
  2. Use a secure payment method: Only shop on sites that take secure payment methods, such as credit cards and PayPal, as they likely give you buyer protection just in case there's a dispute.
  3. Do your homework: When on marketplaces like eBay, check the seller's reputation and read comments before buying a product to see what the experience was like for past customers.
  4. Watch out for fake shopping apps: As we saw last year, hundreds of phony retail apps popped up in Apple's App Store and google play (for Android devices), in the hopes of tricking shoppers into downloading and using them.
  5. Avoid shopping on hotspots: Try not to do any online shopping when you're using a public computer (such as in an airport lounge) or when you're using a public wi-fi network (say, at your favorite coffee shop or in a hotel lobby).
Loading ...