How to make sure online transactions are secure
By now, we all buy things online. Not only that, but we also use PayPal, TransferWise and other similar sites and apps to transfer money; we check our bank accounts via our smartphones, and launch plenty of other transactions that involve, in some way, money and financial accounts via an Internet connection. So, in the vast ocean that is the world wide web, how can we be sure that we don’t become the victims of fraud, scams or identity theft?
A bit of advice can help protect us even while browsing online.
The first step is to verify the service we’re using. That is, do a bit of research about what site is being visited, what data we have to enter and what guarantees the site offers in terms of security. Whether it’s an online shop or a trading platform, if the website is up to code and professional, it will offer very precise information about all applicable laws (90% of the time, you’ll find this info as links in the website’s footer section). Be sure to take a few minutes to read everything on these dedicated pages.
In addition, many sites are reviewed and vouched for by other users, often via platforms such as TrustPilot, etc. These factors are good initial indicators as to the quality and security of the service offered. So, doing a bit of research and heeding the warnings of others is a solid first step to stay away from potential online scams.
To protect yourself from online fraud, it’s also a good idea to be familiar with the various types of scams found online, from phishing websites to fake products. Whether it’s an online shop or investment website, we often come across unreliable URLs, meaning they offer no guarantees, with inexistent products or insecure payment methods. Obviously, we need to stay far away from these sites.
Plus, we need to pay even closer attention when it comes to investments, especially in relation to cryptocurrencies as anonymous and with non-revocable transactions, the risk of loss is very high if the recipient is unknown.
One of the most famous types of scams, which we must absolutely watch out for, are pyramid or Ponzi schemes, i.e., as happened in the case of Bitconnect, not exactly a classic currency trading platform, which took advantage of the volatility of the assets traded in the market and the growing popularity of Bitcoins and the like. If you happen to be a victim of this sort of scam, it will be practically impossible to get your money back. So, again, the best advice is: use only secure, certified platforms.
In terms of virtual currency, to another form of investment recently introduced, ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), widely used by startups to raise funds.
In Italy the stock market is supervised by the Consob (National Commission for Companies and the Stock Exchange), while for cryptocurrencies there is no supervisory institution that controls financial exchanges between investors and companies.
The same advice as above is also true here: do your research! For example, if you can’t find a single review or guarantee relating to a new cryptocurrency and the platform selling it, don’t just blindly purchase it due to its low initial price point. In many cases, these too-good-to-believe deals are offered by cyber scammers, with non-existent virtual money.
Some new cryptocurrency sellers, on the other hand, promise impressive earnings and offer their currency at very high prices. But after the purchase, in just a few times, the value of the virtual currency collapses and users find themselves owning nothing but worthless code. This is exactly why we always recommend buying stable, certified money such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.
Yet there’s more to worry about than just fraudulent sales. When we use the Internet, we’re exposed to the risk of cyber- attacks, which could be used to steal sensitive data – some of it quite private. This happens when we use unprotected connections, such as public Wi-Fi networks. Hackers can easily infiltrate these types of connections, making it necessary to protect ourselves. Always use a secure network, such as VPN connections and, if possible, only visit websites with a secure transfer protocol, i.e., those that start with “https”. By doing so, we can confidently carry out our financial transactions, payments and purchases, without worrying about fraud and hackers.
Passwords and browsers are two other technical elements that shouldn’t be ignored. Tor Browser is a good browser to use, as it protects from potential hackers, especially when carrying out sensitive transactions online. In fact, this browser makes all communications sent and received through the Internet network safe and illegible to unauthorized parties, allowing anonymous access to “public” websites.
As for passwords, while the majority of us opt for easy-to-remember strings of characters and numbers (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), experts recommend using password generators, ensuring they are complex and difficult to guess or extract. In addition, you can rely on services like the Google Authenticator app that generates two-step verification codes on your phone to log in safely every time.
Il mondo digitale a volte può essere insidioso, ma conoscendolo bene e affrontandolo con pazienza e informazione può rivelarsi una fonte di risorse inestimabili. Dunque non spaventatevi, effettuare operazioni finanziarie online in totale sicurezza è possibile, basta solo seguire alcuni consigli utili.