From clothes to household appliances, and even groceries, almost everything can be purchased online-many of us do. In fact, 95% of Americans report that they shop online at least every year1. As we continue to shift towards this trend, the number of fraud and/or identity theft incidents is increasing. In 2016, cybercriminals stole from 15.4 million Americans, a 16% increase from 2015. They stole a total of 16 billion U.S. dollars, and each victim exceeded 1,000 U.S. dollars.

Next time you shop online, follow these tips to protect yourself from being a victim of fraud or theft.

  1. Shop only from secure websites

When you visit a website, the URL should start with "https" instead of "http". A secure website is encrypted, allowing you to complete purchases and enter personal and credit card information without being hacked.

  1. Create a unique username and password for each account you have

Most online retailers allow you to create an account on their website. In this way, your personal information and credit card number will be stored in their system. Many users create an account to view their order status, order history and simplify reordering of goods. However, for each account you have, make sure to use a unique username and password. Think about it: if you have five accounts, each representing five different retailers, but you use the same username/password for each retailer, then once the hacker has cracked your login, they can now access Every account you use for that login.

  1. Never provide your social insurance number

Simple and clear: online retailers do not need your social security number to complete transactions.

  1. Never click on links or images in promotional emails

This is a bit tricky. Suppose you received an email from your favorite online retailer and they are offering a 50% discount for the entire website. However, before clicking the image or the link in the email, it is best to go directly to the web browser and enter the URL of its website. In this way, you can guarantee that you are visiting their secure site.

Many hackers use phishing scams to create fake emails and websites in order to attract consumers and steal their information. In many cases, they can copy the retailer's website well, until it is too late for consumers to know.

  1. Do not use free Wi-Fi in public places when shopping online

Hackers like free Wi-Fi because they can easily access your device and steal personal information. When using public Wi-Fi, your data is usually not encrypted. In addition, hackers can create fake Wi-Fi networks, and once you connect to a passwordless network, they can have full access to your device.

  1. If a deal looks too good to be true, it’s probably

If you see an item on a website such as Amazon and the price has dropped by $200, it is most likely a scam. Or, if you see an offer that says "Like our Facebook page, we will provide you with a free iPhone!" This is almost always a drawback.

  1. Monitor your credit card activity and statement

initiative. Check your credit card activity every day and drill down to view the statement. It is required to receive reminders for purchases whose total amount exceeds a certain amount (for example, $500) during the settlement period. In this way, if a hacker uses your card for multiple small purchases instead of one large purchase, he will be notified.