Consumers complacent about online shopping risks

According to the survey of more than 1000 US internet users conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research for Norton, nearly half of the respondents said they expect their online purchases to increase this holiday season, with 14% saying they expect their purchases to double.

But many of these respondents admitted to risky behavior while online. A full 52% said that they do not enable their smartphone’s access password despite using their phone to make purchases online, access their bank accounts, and update their social networking sites.

“There are so many simple steps people can take online to protect themselves from identity theft, credit card loss and real world threats, and still stay connected,” said personal finance expert Jean Chatzky, who collaborated with Norton on the development and analysis of the study. “As the Internet becomes an even bigger part of our daily lives, I hope people will start taking Internet security more seriously than they are today. Unfortunately, that's not what we're seeing in the data.”

Online shopping accounts are often tied to email accounts, yet nearly half (46%) of the people surveyed admitted that they never change their email account passwords. About 31% never change their password on their banking and financial accounts, 42% never change the password on their social networking accounts, and 71% use the same password across different sites “because it’s easier to remember”.

Also, when people are traveling to visit relatives or the malls, they often tell people where they are going through text messages and social networking updates. But this information can be used by criminals to target victims. Around 22% of respondents said they give applications on their smartphone permission to identify their location. In addition, a high percentage (56%) of respondents under the age of 35 said they update their location regularly on their social networking sites.

“Giving away your location is a potential ‘gateway’ that people should be aware of and think about. The only people who need to know that you’re out-of-town, or not where you usually are, are your family, close friends and maybe a trusted neighbor. Technology is changing so fast, that many people may not even be aware of the various ways they’re opening themselves up to potential financial losses”, Chatzky said.

Norton offered a number of safety tips for online shoppers. People who use their smartphones for online shopping and financial transactions should enable their device’s password protection. In addition, they should not enter sensitive data when browsing the web via a public WiFi network. And online shoppers should use only one credit card for all of their shopping to limit their liability if cybercriminals steal the card information.

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