Online Safety

Online Safety

How To Stay Safe Online Shopping

5 Online Safety Tips You Should Always Keep In Mind

The world of the web is wide and beautiful, but there are places within it that are best avoided. But how can you tell? After all, the same taps and clicks make your keyboard, mouse, and phone respond identically to the words and pictures on every site you visit. The determination of the value of what’s behind the site is mostly up to you. 

To many, that is a scary proposition. And to a few, it is the reason that we frequently gaze at that potentially perfect product — even place it in our virtual shopping bag — just before abandoning it in the store, never to return.

In an ideal world, there would be a means to determine how committed each vendor is to their responsibility of servicing their potential customers. We would know if their respective products were as wonderful and true-to-life as they claim, and if we could trust them to deliver on that promise as we make our way to the checkout page.

Well, there are. 

How To Stay Safe Shopping Online

Online Safety - Shopping

On a basic level, there are some common means which we have all become familiar, such as social proof (the term for what the word-on-the-street says about the vendor and/or product via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter), and via customer reviews such as the nearly universally recognized Google search engine. 

But with the ever-multiplying prospect of online shopping outlets sprouting up like trees in the expanding forest of Internet commerce, it has become more challenging to recognize the disreputable areas of the forest through the virtual trees. In short…

How do I truly know if the vendor and product are as real as the money I’m about to give them?

Secure Shopping - EV-SSL

During verification of an EV SSL digital certificate, the process mandates that the owner of the website pass the globally standardized identity verification and vetting process ratified by the CA/Browser forum.

The website’s owner must prove exclusive rights to use a domain, or have the domain validated (the domain is the name we commonly see in front of the “.com” URL).

The owner must also confirm its legal, operational and physical existence and confirm the actual issuance of the certificate following their domain validation. All of this leads to the trusted padlock icon on the respective browser’s address bar, including major browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Brave.

Online Safety - Credit Card Shopper

Evaluate the Store’s Digital Security

SSL’s primary responsibility is to safely and securely connect your computers or mobile browser’s shopping experience to the store you’ve browsed into. Until the recent past, we have each clicked the secure padlock icon in the address bar at the top of our browsers to see the reassuring “Connection is Secure” message, but few of us know that there are different types of “certificates,” which are digital pieces of computer code that establish the secret handshake issued between that store’s computer server and our own computers, tablets, and cell phones.

Most of us have at one time used the term SSL, and may even remember that it stands for “Secure Sockets Layer,” which is the electronic protocol for establishing secure links between networked computers (don’t worry, we’re not going to get lost in the bits and bytes or TLS versus SSL or other certificate details — for this discussion there are much more important things to focus on).

Let’s take a quick look at the certificate’s important role in ensuring security for the stream of communication flowing between the store and the information you share with it.

Integrated into the bits and bytes of the store’s SSL vocabulary is the secret language that makes our individual conversations a digital enigma to anyone outside of the store and your own browser. Because of this, no one else can make heads or tails of the digital conversation taking place during your shopping transactions. 

Although SSL and its corresponding software certificate have become a common technical standard that forms the basis of our shopping security, few are aware that are different types, and even different methods for store owners to get one.

Secure Shopping - EV-SSL

Check Your Browser – What is EV-SSL?

Shop HerMJ.com - SSL Guarantee

The “EV” in the abbreviated term, EV-SSL, stands for Extended Validation. This type of certificate is one with very stringent requirements that must be validated before a website can make use of it. Before a store’s website can put EV-SSL security into place, the business owner is carefully scrutinized.

Although many online businesses implement a free version of SSL certification, the EV-SSL comes at a cost, both in terms of the store owner’s financial investment and the business resources that must be maintained.

Now things become truly interesting as we completely depart from the realm of technology and emerge into the real world of customer protection and Internet security solutions.

It is here where we find the most essential benefit of the EV-SSL certificate. For an online business to get one, it must satisfy each-and-every requirement as the certificate authorities systematically inspect it. These certificate issuers are a small and select alliance of trusted multi-national organizations within the computing industry.

In fact, a certificate provider may deny an EV-SSL certificate request because of a failure of one or more aspects during the requesting company’s vetting process. These companies must get a less-rigorously validated certificate before anyone can browse their site securely via SSL.

At HerMJ, we recognize that it’s well worth the cost and effort. We are consumers, too. It’s essential to establish a high trust level, and correspondingly to know that you can trust the verified company beyond your phone or computer screen. This is one crucial component of establishing that fact.

HerMJ EV-SSL Seal
HerMJ EV-SSL Secure Seal

If this sounds serious, it is. In fact, at the conclusion of the validation, when respected certificate authority issues the website the trusted EV-SSL certificate, the store also receives a warranty for identity assurance in amounts as high as $1,000,000, as displayed in this trust seal.

Her Majesty’s Jewels, LLC holds a website identity assurance warranty of $1,000,000 subject to the terms and conditions of the Relying Party Warranty.
HerMJ.com EV-SSL Validation

Don’t Be A Product

Don't Be A Product

Your value to each business you visit is often more than the potential to exchange your hard-earned dollars for their goods or services. Even if you didn’t complete the purchase or take them up on a transaction offering to improve some aspect of your consumer life, there are still other things they can ask of you.

You may periodically find that those corresponding information exchanges speak on your behalf to a particular company you never intended to. 

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? It comes via that just-in-time-for-dinner phone call from someone offering you services to help ease the burden of your stressful schedule with a free hotel stay — or the enthusiastic caller who repeats your name after every sentence. 

In other words: the unsolicited call. 

Unsolicited Telemarketing Caller

One way they come to us is the unfortunate sharing of information we entrusted to a vendor. But why?

In the age of social media and digital marketing, we have become even more important products than the products our solicitors hope we’ll buy. A group of names they’ve identified as valid spenders can fetch a pretty penny for a vendor with a cache of valued shoppers known to have shown an interest in a particular product type or market via previous online activity. 

Once a business owner with your data can “offer” it to another vendor or agency, your contact information transforms you from shopper to product. Now they’ll focus on your value as someone they can persuade to buy or rent their offering (or receive an opportunity to experience a free, introductory fill-in-the-telemarketing-blank).

True, the call could deliver a perfectly timed opportunity to complete an simple transaction for that amazing Timeshare you’ve always dreamed of, but more often than not, you’ll have to extract yourself from a chattery take-a-breath sales pitch. And who wants that?

Although there’s little risk of being solicited from the dark dimension, the never-ending series of uncontrollable and unwanted interactions is just about as unwelcomed. 

There is no complete and absolute way to block your phone, email, and possibly even your mailbox from these unfortunate events, but there is a way to fortify their resilience against them.

For those shopping from within the EU, one timely addition to the European consumer protection arsenal is the General Data Protection Regulation. Also known as the GDPR, it’s Europe’s contribution to stronger consumer privacy protection. It puts an admirable amount of power in the hands of the consumer by providing strong opt-out provisions, as well as the right to correct and delete data captured during an online transaction.

Though not as far-reaching in the United States, similar laws coming on the books in places like California, via the Californian Consumer Privacy Act (or CCPA), which went into effect in January 2020. Colorado, Virginia, New York have taken the lead in implementing their own privacy acts. It was followed by an increasing number of states like North Dakota, Hawaii, which are implementing their own provisions to protect our online safety.

What does this mean?

CCPA - Consumer Privacy Act

Companies in these states — and an increasing list of others — will add this to their websites. Look for the privacy statements and to take advantage of the opportunities to manage your identity — and who has a say in managing it along with you.

Even better, find out which companies have made it their policy to keep things private. Companies (like HerMJ) that make a commitment not to sell data at all. Speaking for ourselves at HerMJ, it only makes sense. 

Make Shopping A Virtual Reality

One interesting way to protect your online safety, and the purchases you make, is to virtualize them. There are several smart solutions in the market that do just that. In this way, your finance account exists as the funding source for a virtual credit card.

In effect, you will use a secondary credit card in front of your primary credit card and allowing it to serve the purpose of the processing the transaction.

Virtual Credit Card
Virtual Credit Card Protection

This protects you by completing the transaction with a limited-use virtual card that you can limited to a specific vendor, purchase amount, or timeframe. 

For example: for a Visa Card in your wallet, you register it with the virtual card company of your choice. I use the company, Privacy.com. My account with Privacy.com allows me to create virtual cards that draw from my main Visa account — but I set the limit for the virtual card, as well as to whom the funds can be made available.

If I’ve never shopped at Acme.com’s Tropical Fish and Chips Emporium, I can generate a virtual card with a limited connection to my default Visa card.

By assigning the card to Acme’s checkout, and allocating only the sum that’s required (a $49.95 transaction), I’ve created a firewall that only allows the virtual card to make use of that amount to that vendor.

I can allow future transactions, should I decide that their Tropical Fish and Chips are a must (only for my fish tank, I assure you). In that case, I can increase the limit, or dictate a monthly amount not to be exceeded. It’s that simple. And by doing this, I can sit back knowing that any “mistake” they may make in charging me for a transaction I didn’t approve will be declined.

Privacy - Card Protected
Privacy – Card Protected

As with any similar service, there are things to keep in mind.

Some vendors may view the virtual card as pre-paid card, which they may not support. In such a case, you can defer to your standard mode of payment — so long as you vet the vendor before doing so.

Although you may add other source accounts, such as banking, checking, or other credit card to your virtual card account, it may not be possible to add some account types to the system. You should contact the virtual card company to determine if there may be any issue prior to signing up.

I’ve provided some information should you want to check out Privacy.com. It is one of my favorite means of credit card management and online safety when dealing with transactions.


Take a look at Privacy.com and use this link to get $5 you can spend anywhere online.


Online Safety Password Protection

Could you imagine only using your car key only if you could memorize and draw a sketch each ridge and groove? Wouldn’t that make it easy for someone else to know what the profile of your key would be, and to duplicate it.

Okay, that’s a rather ambitious analogy, but you would never consider cutting a key based on what you want it to look like (or imagine how it will function in a lock). In the same way, many of us use passwords that are “easy to manage,” meaning that they’re universally very convenient to key into their various digital locks based on the ease of our minds to recall them. Unfortunately, that same ease is true for the rest of the universe.

In an age where computer AI is in just about everything electronic, it takes seconds to hack an easily remembered password. Even worse, for those of us who pride ourselves on our “ABC123MomsMaidenName” super-long and impressively complex passwords, it doesn’t help your online safety to use the duplicated password across multiple websites. 

The most effective means to manage what the industry terms a “strong password” for online safety is made up of alpha-numeric characters, special characters, and upper and lower case. And to let a password manager mange it for you.

By this I mean a well-respected piece of software like LastPass, StickyPassword, or Keeper. The best solutions are those that allow you to keep the program under lock with a master password known only to you — and then allow the password manager it to generate complex secondary passwords you assign to individual websites or applications.

In such a scenario, you would only need one complex password to access the application and then tell it to supply each unique password to each specific website.

The resulting password is generated by the application and looks far too intimidating for anyone to remember — and too complex for the common hacker to guess.

Congratulations, Now You’re An Online Ninja

Happy Shopper

You’ve earned yourself more than my thanks for reading this. You now know more about online safety and protecting yourself. It will enhance your confidence as you make the journey through the Internet’s cyber stores and marketplaces. With everything you’ve leaned here, that journey will be a lot safer.

Feel free to put what you’ve learned into practice when you next visit our galleries at HerMJ.com

Until then, safe shopping.

Online Safety 1
Wear Jewelry Rocks™

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