Pagoda Blog

7 Tips for Safer Online Shopping

December 7, 2023

It’s that time of year when we fill our virtual shopping carts, take advantage of amazing limited-time deals, and enter our payment details on multiple websites across the internet. Online shopping is undoubtedly a convenient way to buy gifts for friends and family but if we’re not careful, it can put our bank accounts and other sensitive information at risk. 


Here are 7 ways to play it safe with your online holiday shopping this season so you can check everyone off your list without compromising security. 



1) Monitor your bank statements 

During this busy shopping season, regularly monitoring your bank accounts can help catch and stop fraudulent activity before it gets out of hand. Make it a weekly or even daily habit to review your credit card transactions and bank transactions online and immediately contact the institution regarding any suspicious activity.  


2) Be price savvy & verify the seller  

Knowing what items cost on average can help you avoid falling for scams where the price is too good to be true. Especially during the holiday season, scammers create fraudulent websites and sell products at incredibly low prices. When you pay for the product, they may take your money and never send you the purchase or the product you receive could be a cheap counterfeit. 


A way to avoid falling prey to these scams is to always verify the seller before you enter your payment information. Double check that the website is secured using HTTPS, look for online reviews, contact information, and review the whole website, scanning for a large number of typos, grammar mistakes, and other red flags that the website was quickly thrown together as a scam. You can also use Google’s Transparency Report to verify if a site has been deemed unsafe.    


3) Use a VPN 

Always using a secure, encrypted internet connection helps keep your data safe from interception by a third-party. A VPN or Virtual Private Network masks your online activity as well as your IP address so that your location is unknown and your activity is virtually untraceable. If instead you use public Wi-Fi without a VPN, your data can be intercepted by anyone else using that connection. As a rule of thumb, you should never enter payment details or check your bank statements when using public Wi-Fi. 


4) Don’t overshare 

When making purchases online, only share the information that’s absolutely necessary to complete the transaction. This includes your full name, credit card number, CVC code, and billing address. If the company requires you to provide more information beyond that, avoid purchasing from that seller and find one that respects data privacy and security. 


5) Use MFA to secure online accounts 

Your online accounts should be secured with both a strong password and MFA. MFA provides an extra layer of security for your accounts, requiring two or more identifying pieces of information in order for you to log-in to your account. Many websites use SMS as their primary form of MFA. Receiving a code by text is a convenient way to verify your identity but it’s important to be aware of the risks of this form of MFA. 


6) Don’t skip software updates 

Software updates ensure that your devices are operating with the latest software version, complete with security patches. These patches provide fixes to any discovered vulnerabilities in the software. When you skip or simply put off your software updates, you’re putting your data at risk of a cyberattack. 


7) Learn to spot phishing attempts

Phishing emails mimic an individual or company that you know and trust in order to procure sensitive information, get you to click a malicious link, or download an embedded file that then introduces malware or a virus onto your device. Learning how to spot phishing attempts greatly mitigates the risk that you’ll fall prey to this form of attack.  



While it’s important to stay safe when shopping online, it’s equally important to provide secure payment processing on your own website. Whether it’s a product or a service, if you’re collecting payment information then it’s your responsibility to ensure you’re protecting your customer’s information. Make sure you meet these primary security measures when processing payments online. 



Feature photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash 


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