Online shopping has only increased in popularity for its ability to compare prices, find unique products, and submit orders from anywhere. Unfortunately, as the popularity of online purchases and, more specifically, cryptocurrency transactions have increased, so have the risks. Doing some background research on the website, you are purchasing from or using bitcoin escrow on cryptoexchange.com can ensure that every purchase you are making is safe. These four general tips can help ensure you are following best practices for all transactions.
Follow general bitcoin security tips
First, to safely buy products with bitcoin, there are a couple of standard procedures that users should follow for general security purposes. First, your password and private key are similar to your credit card information. As such, users should never share this information with anyone. Additionally, platforms leverage two-factor authentication (2FA) to ensure that only trusted devices can access their user’s funds. With these general tips for safekeeping, the next step to buying products online is finding a secure place to spend your coins.
A common scam that may arise is phishing, the fraudulent attempt to steal private information through a trustworthy entity’s disguise. Buyers must beware of fake, identical versions of a cryptocurrency exchange or online storefront. Scammers may email a link to the user requiring immediate action and requiring a user’s login. To avoid phishing in any online transactions, it is important to ensure that the link displayed in your browser is the same one with which you have transacted in the past.
Determine if the website you are using is secure
To determine a safe website, the purchaser is encouraged to research the retailer in depth. Proper research means identifying the company’s return policies and how they relate to your rights as the buyer. If anything in this policy is confusing or seems faulty, users may search for online reviews on third-party sites like TrustPilot. Generally, a mostly positive response from the public will indicate that the site is a secure place to make a purchase. Negative reviews or a lack of reviews may require additional research into the security protocols in place. An example is the lock icon in front of the website URL or “HTTPS” ahead of the website.
When it comes time to make any purchase online (not just a cryptocurrency transaction), users should hesitate to use public Wi-Fi. A private connection is typically more secure and provides greater security for your payment information.
Consumers can extend these cautionary tips to cryptocurrency exchanges used to buy or store crypto. While exchanges have become more secure recently, there have been cases on larger exchanges of users’ funds being lost or frozen. If you are trading your funds in the short term, it is unlikely you will be subject to one of these rare instances. On the other hand, if you plan on holding your currency for a while, as you decide what to buy, offline storage such as a hardware wallet is often recommended. A hardware wallet is a physical device that protects your private key’s security from the prying eyes of criminals. The hardware wallet will likely also come with a seed or physical piece of paper that allows users to transfer their keys to another wallet in an emergency.
Follow general online privacy tips
Such as is true in any online transaction, users should never share their personal information, including PINs, email addresses, birthdays, or the potential answers to any of their security questions. Users should carefully consider avoiding platforms where suspicious transactions that require the exchange of these personal details are “necessary.”
When conducting peer-to-peer transactions, leverage escrow services
Following safe website protocols is effective if you are planning on purchasing from an online storefront. That said, there may be times when you are purchasing a unique or luxury item sold by the seller. In this case, conducting a safe transaction will involve other safety protocols, such as using a third-party escrow service. Consumers can use escrow services as protection for themselves and the seller. The presence of a third-party is often enough to deter scammers.
When initiating a transaction, buyers can still select the seller as they would under normal circumstances. From there, one of the two parties can set up an account on an escrow service platform. The third-party will validate the buyer’s funds, holding them in a safekeeping account until parties agree the transaction is complete. Consider the case of the buyer’s product not being received as specified or any other complications arise. In this case, funds are allocated based on the decision of the third-party escrow service.
Similar to how you would avoid fraud online, bitcoin purchasers should avoid making themselves an easy target online. Combining these tips can help ensure that consumers keep their crypto secure and transact without worry.