It’s no longer uncommon to do your shopping on your mobile device. Ever sat on the couch watching Netflix and browsing your favorite retailer on your tablet?
Many of us have been there. Indeed, 52 percent of millennials make purchases on their mobile devices at least a few times a month, according to research from Invoca. While this is no longer a foreign concept, arguably, many of us haven’t considered how to shop on mobile safely. That’s why we pulled together some last minute safe mobile shopping tips for your last-minute present buying-spree.
Only shop on an HTTPS website
It’s a little cumbersome on mobile to see whether you’re surfing an HTTPS site. Most mobile browsers will show the same lock icon in the upper right- or left-hand corner of the address bar. If you want to double-check to make sure, however, you can usually click on the address bar and scroll over to the beginning of the URL.
While nothing is perfect, most HTTPS sites are safe to use, encrypting your communications so that eavesdroppers won’t be able to do their snooping.
Don’t store your credit cards in your notes
Whether it’s in the notes app that comes with the device or one of the many popular note-taking services out there, you should never store your credit card information in your phone. It might be easier to copy and past those 16 digits as you make your Cyber Monday purchases, but it’s not worth it. If your phone is lost or stolen — especially if you don’t have a pin on it — so are your credit cards, effectively. There are a number of applications that access note apps as well. Email services often sync notes, and there are any number of productivity plugins that connect to note-taking apps to help you access things like to-do lists in a number of different places.
Keep your credit cards safe in a wallet and off your phone.
Set up a pin for your device
Sure, you hear this piece of advice all the time, but that’s because of how important it is. It might be an inconvenience to input a pin or swipe your finger in a certain pattern before you can access the contents of your mobile device, but it’s a major safeguard for your privacy. On a day like Cyber Monday when you’re regularly inputting your credit card information and logging into sensitive accounts, you’ll want to make sure no one else can quickly grab your phone and access that same data.
If you’re buying through an app, make sure it’s from an official app store
Many third-party app stores do not properly vet the applications that are published to their market. This means repackaged apps and those masquerading as popular apps sometimes slip through. For example, you might think you’re downloading a popular e-commerce app, but instead are getting a fake version that actually pushes you aggressive advertising and maybe even roots your device. Only download your shopping applications from official app stores such as Google Play and the Apple App Store. If you want to go a step further, check the developer name to ensure it is from that company, and check the reviews for any reports of fishy behavior.
Lastly, while it’s not mobile-shopping specific…
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”
If you’re buying a tablet this holiday season, keep the saying in mind, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Recently, news has broken about cheap tablets that come preloaded with malware. Indeed, we track a number of malware families that we suspect are put on the device while it is still in the supply chain and then shipped out to retailers. Make sure that any device you give this holiday season has security software installed on it and remember that some “good deals” really aren’t all that good.