Security and online shopping: How to protect your money and your data

Love the convenience of online shopping, but wondering how to avoid getting scammed? Here you’ll find 6 ways—plus our expert bonus tip—to protect your money and your data while shopping online.

4 min read

Picture it: You’re just one click away from a crazy deal on a new couch. Admittedly, you’re not familiar with this online shop, but the product has rave reviews. Hang on a second! Before you click “Buy,” read our guide to safe online shopping. Handing over your personal details to a fraudulent website puts you and your money at risk, and if you’ve landed on a fake page, that couch is too good to be true anyway… 

Six safety tips for online shopping

The good news: Secure online shopping isn’t rocket science. By following a few guidelines, you can stay safe when browsing and buying online. Here are our top tips for how to make sure your online payments are secure: 

1. Avoid using public WiFi

Shopping online from the comfort of your favorite coffee shop may seem appealing, but it comes with a few hidden risks. Public WiFi networks are vulnerable to hackers, who can intercept all kinds of data.

What’s more, if you decide to shop online while using a public WiFi connection, you risk giving away highly sensitive personal information: your credit card details and your name. It’s much safer to do all of your online shopping at home, using a secure internet connection. Naturally, the same goes for mobile banking

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2. Use a VPN or your mobile data

A VPN (virtual private network) routes the connection from your computer and your internet service provider to the VPN’s private server instead. While this may sound a little complicated, all it means is that the connection between your computer and the VPN server is encrypted, making it very difficult for hackers to intercept your data.

But what if you need to order something on the go? Simply use your mobile phone’s data to make online purchases! This is safer than connecting to public WiFi, protects your phone from hackers, and doesn’t require you to use a VPN.

3. Update your computer and your phone regularly

Making sure that your computer and your phone are using the most up-to-date operating systems protects them from being infected by malware. This is because hackers locate weak spots in different computer and mobile phone operating systems.

Phone and computer companies are constantly working to spot vulnerabilities and patch them up before hackers can exploit them. And if you don’t update your device, you leave it vulnerable to attack.

4. Don’t give out too much information

If a website asks for unnecessary personal information, then more likely than not, it’s fraudulent. For example, you should think twice about entering your tax number, where you were born, or information concerning your family members.

If you’re confused about why a website wants to know certain personal information, try getting in touch with them. If this proves impossible because you can’t find any contact details on the website, it’s safer just to close that browser tab and shop somewhere else.

5. Only use trustworthy payment methods

It’s an e-commerce security red flag if an online shop asks you to wire them money directly. If you can’t pay using your credit or debit card, or through a trusted payment system such as PayPal, chances are that this website is fraudulent and you shouldn’t buy from them.

This also applies for sellers: For instance, if you’re selling things on eBay Kleinanzeigen, make sure to protect yourself from scammers and only accept trusted payment methods.

6. Check your statements regularly

Regularly checking your bank statements goes a long way to putting your mind at ease. Fraudsters can be sneaky, only taking small amounts out of your account so that it’s difficult for you to even realize that you’re a victim of fraud. Over time, these small amounts can really add up, though—and by the time you notice your missing money, it might be too late to claim it back. It’s a good idea to go through your bank statements each month and make sure that you know exactly what each transaction is for. Then, you can rest easy, knowing that your finances are secure. Read more in our complete guide to secure online banking.

Additional tip: Choose a secure bank

As The Mobile Bank, security is one of our top priorities at N26. You receive instant push notifications for every transaction, directly on your smartphone. That way, you always know where your money is going—and in real time. Accidentally dismissed a transaction notification? Simply scroll through the list on the home screen in your N26 app to check all your transactions. If you see a transaction you didn’t make, lock your card in the app immediately and contact our Customer Support for a replacement card. Then, you can dispute the fraudulent transaction and request a chargeback.

By the way: With our premium plans, you get access to an additional virtual card, which you can use for online purchases only. The virtual card is connected to your bank account, but it’s encrypted and comes with a separate bank account number for extra-secure online shopping. Find even more guides to online security on our blog—for instance, how to create a strong password or how to protect yourself when your phone is stolen

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