The number of people shopping online is rapidly on the rise. In fact, nearly one-third of the world’s population purchased goods from retailers via the internet in 2017. Last year, 1.66 billion people have been estimated to have bought from e-shops like Walmart and sites like Amazon, and global e-retail sales reached $2.3 trillion. This figure is expected to double by 2021. But while shopping has become much easier and more convenient, it also opens up a whole world of opportunities for criminals to target careless spenders who are lackadaisical with their bank details. Here we take a look at the online shopping figures and discuss what you can do to protect yourself from attack when making internet purchases.
The days of going out to the high street, picking out and trying on clothes are long gone. No more do busy parents have to walk around a supermarket with a crying child while searching desperately for the weekly groceries. And failing to send someone a birthday or anniversary gift is a thing of the past – there are no excuses. All of these things and more can be done swiftly online, and there is no doubt that internet purchases have made life a lot simpler.
Online shopping has become increasingly popular in recent years because it isn’t restricted to 9 to 5 opening hours of high street stores, there is a greater amount of choice, and it is easier to compare prices. In 2016, online shopping became the preferred method of buying things, with research from comScore showing that people made 51 percent of their total purchases online compared to 48 percent in 2015 and 47 percent in 2014. The study also found there was an increase in people using smartphones for online shopping, with 44 percent of participants using their devices in 2016 compared to 41 percent the year before.
Unfortunately, with the rise of online shopping, there has also been an upsurge in card crime and identity theft. In fact, a whopping 46 percent of Americans have been victims of credit card fraud in the last five years. There have been some famous cases of hackers infiltrating major sites - which should act as a warning to internet users to be extra careful online. In 2016, there were extreme data breaches of Yahoo and MySpace, which affected the accounts of three billion people.
Nowadays, it is a requirement for businesses to conform to PCI DSS, which stands for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It was created in 2004, and aims to secure credit and debit card transactions against data theft and fraud. Because all reputable companies have to comply, your card details should be secure when shopping on a respectable site. If in doubt, double-check that the e-shop you're considering does have PCI DSS.
To make sure the website you are shopping with is secure, look for a small padlock in the address bar. Also, if the web address starts with https, the “s” in that stands for “secure” – signifying that they are protected by SSL -- which is the only type of page you should consider inputting your card details on. Always make sure you read the terms and conditions, and see if there are any reviews of the retailer available. This will help you assess the site’s credibility.
Online shopping is only set to increase over the next few years as technology gets even more advanced. It is a great convenience, but customers need to remember to take precautions.