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Not only is online commerce big business, so is online crime.

Ironically, for most of us, being victimized online is our fault. The evil masterminds who attempt to take down the world’s banking system with the push of a button have better things to do than bother with accounts that take measures of prevention. There’s simply much easier pickings out there, ie- careless consumers.

So, diligence is the first line of defense when it comes to cybersecurity.

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Whether or not you’re part of the 41% to 45% of consumers concerned about online privacy, computer viruses or identity theft, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of how to make yourself more secure.

The five tips below encourage you to be extra cautious while serving as a guide to protecting yourself.

1. Look for TRUSTe Privacy or Secured Signs

Verify your protection by looking for secure labels when browsing.

Many websites have TRUSTe affiliations, which require an up-front privacy assurance for customers, and securing browsing, which is donated by “https” or a lock icon at the end of the address bar.

It’s estimated that between 59% to 70% of online shoppers abandon their carts. Many users prefer to browse and come back to their items later, but online safety is also reason why people decide not to follow through with a purchase.

2. Check Out without Sharing Banking Information

PayPal, which has millions of registered users in 190 markets, allows shoppers to send and receive money without giving away personal banking information. Their PayPal account stores this information, allowing account holders to check out at various e-commerce sites with just their email address and PayPal password.

5 Ways to Protect Your Accounts When Shopping OnlinePayPal is owned by eBay — although they are splitting up — and now facilitates more than $60billion in payments per calendar quarter.

But that’s not the only way to pay it safe online. Some credit card companies offer ways to create secure accounts for safer checkouts.

3. Check Out Website Policies

Many shoppers end up purchasing an item and not being fully satisfied, so what happens when they try to return it?

It’s important to read the seller’s return policies, as well as their privacy and security policies. Even if the seller doesn’t offer protection, some services such as PayPal offer their own purchase protection.

Sometimes, the hidden fees of restocking and shipping are tacked on, but keep watch on what information they collect.

The privacy of your information varies from merchant to merchant, but if the company is bought, your data could be sold, too. For now, double-check they’re keeping your information to themselves.

4. Research Companies

We know people use online shopping for efficiency, but before you drop hundreds of dollars on your family and friends, do a little research.

Some reputable and trusted resources can link to others with weaker security policies, and your information could be compromised. Don’t be afraid to shop around before committing to the lowest-priced option. Those outfits could be making up the difference in other ways, such as selling their data.

5. Hide Your IP Address

Online users can steal your IP address to track your location and browser.

Although this doesn’t seem to be a common issue, it can be a step to stealing your identity or more detailed information. Unfortunately, you’ll most likely have to download software to completely bar yourself from search engines and third parties such as advertisers.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/11/20/online-shopping-safety/

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