Whether you’re checking out sales or planning a big purchase, online shopping is a convenient way to purchase goods and services. The downside of this convenience is that it also makes it far easier for your personal information to be discovered by unauthorized third parties. These rogue vendors may collect sensitive financial information about you, your family, and your friends without your knowledge. You may even see these details appear in public through things like social media profiles. Fortunately, there are several simple things you can do to protect your money from being seen by strangers when using the web as an outlet for personal purchases. Read on for more information

Confirm the Vendor’s Identity

Before shopping online, you should confirm the identity of the vendor. This is especially important if you’re buying items like musical instruments, cars, or large items that require special transport or shipment. The Federal Trade Commission recommends confirming the vendor’s identity by contacting them directly and making sure they’re the same entity you’re buying from. You can do this through the company’s website, social media profiles, or phone number. You can also confirm the vendor’s identity by checking public records or posting reviews online. If you find that a vendor has multiple business locations, or operates as a sole proprietor, then you may find these details through public records. If the vendor is an established company, then you may find additional information about them through their financial records.

Use a VPN or Tor Browser

When you shop online, sensitive information about you and your finances can be stored and transferred using the internet as a “ transport medium.“ To prevent this, you can use a virtual private network (VPN) or Tor browser when accessing online stores. A VPN can encrypt all of your online activity, including your financial information. VPNs are easy to use and come in a variety of types, including paid and free services. While a paid VPN can be more convenient, a free service such as TunnelBear is a good option to start with. Whichever VPN you choose, make sure you know how to use it. You may also want to schedule a time during which you only access the VPN so that you don’t forget. You can also use a VPN when browsing the web on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Always Read the Privacy Policies

Most online stores have privacy policies that provide information about how your information will be used and shared. If you don’t read these policies beforehand, you may be surprised by how much information a vendor can see about you. Don’t just sign or click “I agree” without verifying that you understand what is written there. To avoid confusion, it’s a good idea to create a mental outline of how you want to use the information as soon as you realize you’ll be purchasing goods online. Use a pen and paper to make notes about how you want to use the goods you’re purchasing so that you don’t unintentionally send sensitive details elsewhere.

Ask for Proof of Identity

When you’re buying goods online, you can request proof of identity from the vendor before you complete the purchase. This ensures that the vendor is the legitimate owner of the goods they’re selling. To ask for proof of identity, you can use a service like ProveIt, which allows you to send a link to a government-issued document to vendors. You can also do this by writing a request on the vendor’s site, along with your name, address, and a return address for the item you’re purchasing. Keep in mind that most vendors will process this request in 24 hours. Make sure you send any requests while the vendor is open.

Prev and Provenance provide Proof of Identity

As mentioned above, you can use VPNs and Tor browsers to protect your financial information when shopping online. However, this doesn’t protect you from impersonal vendors who operate outside the law and may not care about your privacy. Prev and Provenance provide a service that allows you to confirm the identity of the vendor when shopping online. It also provides proof of the origin of your purchase, which can protect you from impersonal online vendors who operate outside the law and may not care about your privacy. Prev can be used for online purchases, but it’s more effective for purchases made on credit cards. The vendor can then verify your transaction by showing a government-issued ID. Provenance can be used for all types of online purchases, but it’s more effective for grocery or gas purchases. It can show you the exact items purchased, their origin, and when the purchase was made.

Double-Check After You’ve Received Your Purchase

To double-check that your information has not been exposed, you can check your bank statement for any unauthorized purchases. This can help you confirm that a rogue vendor has been making purchases in your name. You can also use a third-party service like Shodan to search for devices connected to your home network that may have exposed your financial information. If you’ve received goods, you should open them and inspect them thoroughly. This can help you confirm that the items you’ve received are the ones you purchased. If you’re not sure, you can contact the vendor and ask them to double-check for you. To protect yourself from identity theft, you need to be careful about what information you share online. To be safe, confirm the identity of the vendor before making a purchase, use a VPN or Tor browser, read the privacy policies, and use Prev and Provenance to confirm the identity of the vendor after you’ve received your purchase.