October 13, 2021

To help protect your identity and practice safer online security measures, here are some tips when shopping online. Whether shopping online or in a physical store, some basic rules still apply: 1) don’t give out your information to strangers and 2) stick with locations that are legitimate and have a history of consumer interaction. In order to help further protect your identity and practice safer online security measures, here are some helpful tips to abide by when shopping online:

Listen to Your Gut

It’s that feeling you get when you walk into a room or situation that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. If you find yourself not feeling good about the purchases you’re about to make online, just close out your browser. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Nothing is worth putting yourself at risk for a possible scam. That expense may end up costing you much more than just the price of the online item.

Public Browsing is for Browsing, Not Shopping

Sure, it’s tempting to jump on to a cafĂ©’s free WiFi while you take a coffee break from work and you just so happen to get an email stating that your favorite yoga pants are going on sale. Although the website that hosts the yoga pants may be secure, unfortunately the public WiFi connection is not. A hacker can easily gather up your personal and financial information by using the same public WiFi. Wait until you get home to shop from a secure WiFi connection. 

Look for the “S” in HTTPS

Check to see that the website has an “s” at the end of the “https” in the URL. That “s” stands for “secure” and ensures the website you’re shopping from is only being looked at from the intended recipient (the shopping website) and the information you input is not floating around in cyberspace. 

Passwords and Using Common Sense

If your password to any online account is “password” or “1234,” please stop reading this article and immediately change it. Passwords need to be unique and complex. Fill your password with a combo of numbers, letters and possibly symbols. Don’t save your Debit or Credit Card number or password information in your browser, and do not use the same password for multiple sites. That's like giving a VIP pass to any hacker that comes along.

Two Step Authentication

To help verify that it’s really you making an online purchase, there are many different mobile apps and security devices that ask you to conduct a thorough confirmation of your identity. For example: if you’ve downloaded a authenticator app to your computer or phone, the authenticator will ask you for several confirmations of your identity before you’re able to complete the purchase. To be technical, this process is called a multi-factor authentication (MFA). This is when two or more pieces of evidence is answered correctly to confirm identity. After the confirmations are complete, the user is therefore allowed access to continue their transaction. Examples of an MFA include anything from receiving a text message that states a one-time code or password to use for the transaction or a personal question that only you know the answer to.

Check… One, Two, Three

It may seem tedious but saving your receipts and checking your Checking Account transaction history and Credit Card statement each month may help you catch some sneaky hackers who weasel their way into your accounts. Smart hackers may do it in gradual amounts, unnoticeable to the unassuming shopper, so that they can continually charge your account each month like a stealth ninja thief. They do this because they’re also taking out small amounts of money from many other unlucky users. Since the amounts are in small increments, such as $10 or $20, and not thousands of dollars’ worth of skiing equipment, they’re then able to remain under the radar, especially to those who don’t check their statement for these red flag expenses. So as to not help their fund of thievery, checking and double-checking your transactions and statement for any inaccurate expenditures is highly encouraged. If you do find discrepancies within your statement, contact your financial institution and/or credit card company right away.

Call, Text, Alert Me

Sign up for notifications from your bank or credit union so you'll know when transactions post. If an unfamiliar charge pops up, you'll be able to report it right away and prevent a fraudster shopping spree on your dime. HawaiiUSA Digital Banking users can also block and unblock their debit and credit cards through Online or Mobile Banking, any time of the day or night. 

Life will always pose risks, but you can protect yourself and your account information by being vigilant and informed. By knowing what to look for and what precautions to take if certain shady websites or email alerts arise, you’ll not only better arm yourself with the tools to remain alert and careful, you’ll also help safeguard your information from greedy hackers.