Do you plan to use a phone or tablet to shop for gifts this holiday season? According to comScore, the number of e-tail dollars spent on smartphones and tablets is growing fast - an estimated 33 percent this November and December.
Yet, while mobile shopping offers convenience (and, often, free shipping), mobile-device shoppers aren't immune to online threats. The best way to avoid these threats is to use disposable email addresses, disposable credit cards, and secure passwords from a password generator. If you use anonymous emails or credit cards that cannot be traced back to you, you are reducing your level of risk immensely.
What are our main concerns about making purchases from a smartphone or tablet?
We at Abine ran an analysis of tracker behavior at the 100 most-trafficked retail websites. A tiny minority of sites had no trackers at all. Yet some had as many as 19.
And because these trackers paint a picture of your browsing history - or what you place in your shopping cart - shopping across a number of websites can reveal lots more information about you than you may expect.
Trackers aren't malicious, but the companies that place them are in the business of selling your personal information so you're targeted more effectively with ads. Is that really something you benefit from?
As online shopping grows more common, security breaches do, too. So far this year, more than 300 million customer accounts have been compromised. ("Customer accounts" refers to email addresses, passwords, credit cards or other forms of personal data. Some breaches reveal just one of these data categories, but others - like last week's Sony Entertainment hack, or the breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management - can involve all of them.)
Plus, if you're like many internet users, you reuse passwords across different sites. If one of your accounts gets hacked, any other site where you'd used those credentials could also be a target for the hackers.
So should you be afraid to buy things from a mobile device? No - you just need to take certain precautions. Here's what you can do:
1. Anonymize yourself on retail websites
Some e-tailers let you check out as a "Guest" - this is the best way to shop, as it ensures your payment and shipping information will only be recorded on a per-transaction basis.
If you do need to create a profile to shop at a certain site, Blur can help you mask your real identity. You can use Blur's Masked Emails feature to sign up for websites with an anonymous and disposable email address. Blur is also a password generator and a password manager, so you never have to remember any of these passwords—Blur does it for you!
2. Use a secure browser to shop
You have the power to block trackers when you're browsing the web on your phone or tablet. The browser in Blur's mobile app blocks tracking out of the box - no setup needed!
To access the Blur mobile browser, simply click the globe icon in the Blur app's lower-right-hand corner:
3. Mask your payment information
Secure shopping options like PayPal and Apple Pay keep your real payment info hidden from merchants - and Blur's Masked Cards and digital wallet can do exactly the same thing when you shop on the web.
Available in Blur Premium plans, Masked Cards are designed for one-time use. Masked Cards work like disposable credit cards, that cannot be linked to you, and can be “disposed” after its been used in entirety. Below, you can see the Masked Card I created for the exact amount of a recent H&M purchase:
And creating a new Masked Card from a mobile device takes just a few taps. In the Blur app's Dashboard (shown above in bullet 2), just tap Wallet > Mask My Card > Create New.
If you really like to have additional useful information pertaining to Masked Cards, visit our website.