As we move through a busy retail season, shopping on the go is becoming more and more common. According to Adobe Analytics*, as of early Monday (Nov. 27th), Americans had spent nearly $14 billion online since Thanksgiving Day – with more than half of those purchases coming from mobile devices. Though it’s definitely convenient, there are risks with sharing financial information in this manner. Better Business Bureau® of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers simple safety tips for those who use mobile devices to shop online.
“For many consumers, it’s now second nature to use smartphones and tablets the same way as we use home computers,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “However, the same security recommendations that apply to home computers also apply to handheld devices, and there are other factors that need to be considered.”
In addition to making holiday purchases on smartphones and tablets, consumers often use these devices to decide which products to buy. A common concern with mobile browsing is the safety of the user’s Internet connection. The best bet for safe web surfing is to use password protected Wi-Fi connections. Whether this is at home or on the go, using a password protected connection provides some peace of mind.
When it comes to making purchases, however, safety should always come first. Public Wi-Fi means public, and your information could be compromised.
Shopping safely on mobile devices means following these protocols:
- Making purchases via public Wi-Fi connections carries inherent risks. It’s best not to do it. Check your smartphone settings to ensure you aren’t automatically connecting to open Wi-Fi networks.
- Be careful regarding how and where you share your financial information. When shopping online from a secure, private Wi-Fi connection, always make sure that you’re on a trustworthy website. Do your research at bbb.org.
- Safety first. At the point of purchase, look for “https” in your browser or a “lock” symbol, as this shows the website is secure.
- Be careful with hyperlinks. Some hyperlinks lead to websites that you do not want to visit or can infect your device with viruses or malware.
- Do not save financial information on your device. Most devices have an “auto-save” or “auto-fill” feature that allows the user to save credit card information for future use. Saving financial information like this can potentially allow easier access to sensitive information.
- Use the most up-to-date browser. Be sure to keep your phone and your preferred web browser updated. Newer updates tend to have better security features on them.
- Pay with a credit card. Credit card transactions are protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act.
- Keep a record of your transaction. Keep a separate folder for confirmation emails regarding any online purchases. It might also be a good idea to print out hard copies.
*Adobe Analytics measures online transactions by the 100 largest U.S. web retailers.