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How can I shop securely online?

Online shopping is increasingly the order of the day. There are no borders, no opening hours. You can buy anything or arrange services from anywhere in the world. e-commerce has been refined to offer users products in record time. And we can now shop online from anywhere, thanks to the new generation of mobile devices. It is becoming more and more common to see commercial events and dates during which online sales and purchases leap, by up to 200%, such as Christmas, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.

But you must remember a number of points to ensure your online payments and purchases are not affected by fraud, to guarantee the security of your payments and support the growth of e-commerce. Here are some tips that are very easy to apply:

Only ever use a secure wifi or internet connection

Avoid open networks in airports, restaurants and other establishments where hundreds of users have access to the wifi. It is advisable to use secure connections, whether provided by your mobile operator or your home internet network. Do not buy anything using public devices, only use your own.

Keep your equipment up to date and protected

Ensure your desktop and mobile devices are always protected by some type of antivirus system. These programs are designed to activate security or quarantine protocols the moment they identify suspicious files or attempts by external agents to manipulate the device.

Identify the https protocol

A basic precaution you must take when browsing a website is identifying whether it is using the HTTPS protocol. This is easy to identify by looking at the URL, which will start with https:// and display a padlock icon.

This protocol is designed to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the user's data between their device and the website when they are browsing the internet.

Buy from well-known and reputable websites

When you search for a product that you want to buy online, you will find many stores and web pages with offers or very competitive prices. But it is very important to identify websites that are well known or recommended by people who have already used them. If there is no such website, search for opinions about the site to ensure that it complies with security protocols for payments and that it offers a positive user experience, in terms of product quality, delivery times and conditions for returns.

Find and read their privacy policy

Before you buy from an online store, check that it has a privacy policy page in a visible place and that this is up to date.

Only provide the personal data that is required, and do so safely

The last step in an online purchase usually involves a form requesting a range of information, such as the cardholder's name, the card number and expiry date, and the CVV code. When you enter this data, you are usually redirected to an encrypted page by the bank associated with the card or to the online store's payment system, to enter the verification code (between 6 and 8 digits) sent to your mobile device. This code works like a random PIN code, guaranteeing the security of the payment between the store and the customer. The purchase cannot be authorised without it.

Avoid links in emails and advertisements

We receive hundreds of emails every day with offers and discounts on products we can buy with a single click. We can even be drawn by attractive ads and products on social networks such as Instagram and Facebook. Be very careful, because they are not always genuine.

When you receive an email, check that a verified address appears in the "From" section, or that it identifies the owner or manager of the business. If an email address includes a lot of numbers or is sent from Internet providers, avoid clicking on any part of its content.

Take the same precaution with banners on social networks: before clicking, search for the brand or company and confirm that they are offering the products or service with the advertised offer. And check that they are using the https security protocols. Search for opinions about the website, if you don't know it.

Unfortunately, we must also think about fraud and what is known as phishing.

Avoid phishing

This is a type of fraud used to obtain information from users illegally using the internet, by impersonating the websites of services, public institutions, social networks and even banks, savings banks and other financial institutions.

Check the details of the e-commerce site

Online stores must make the following data available to their users on their website:

  • The full name of the entity (individual, company, foundation, etc.)
  • Tax ID number (NIF, NIE or CIF)
  • Commercial register registration details
  • Postal address
  • Electronic address

As you can see, there are many ways of avoiding internet fraud. We recommend that you read this guide from the Spanish Data Protection Agency for more information on shopping safely online.


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