Shopping online these days is easier than ever. If you’re shopping for construction hardware, you might visit a website like bacoent.com to check out a large selection of carriage bolts, including galvanized carriage bolts and zinc carriage bolts. If you are looking for general merchandise, you might visit a website like amazon.com to shop for everything from pens and furniture to toys and electronics.

No matter what you’re looking for, there’s probably an online store out there that has what you need, but how can you be sure your personal data is secure when shopping online? Identity theft is certainly a real problem in the digital age, and with so many people using credit and debit cards online, you need to take every precaution to protect your financial information.

Thankfully, by following a few simple steps, you can protect your data, enjoy greater online privacy and still get the things you’re looking for. Below are three simple tips you can use to protect yourself while shopping online:

1. Look For The HTTPS://

When you type a website address into the URL bar of your preferred browser, you probably don’t even include the “WWW” anymore. There was a time only a little more than a decade ago when visiting a website meant you needed to include not only the “www” but also the “HTTP://”. Modern web browsers automatically include this information for you now, but you still need to pay attention to that “HTTP://” part even though you don’t need to type it in any longer.

What you want to see in the URL bar of any site with which you are conducting a financial transaction is “HTTPS://” instead of simply “HTTP://”. The added letter means that the connection is secure, and without going into too many technical details, it means that your data is encrypted so that it can’t be captured and used by a malicious third party during transit across the web. If you’re shopping on a website that doesn’t use “HTTPS://”, you might consider looking for another site that offers better security.

2. Use Strong Passwords

Most online shopping sites allow you to create a user account, and in doing so, you will need to create a username and password. Although making your password something like “password” or “12345678” might make it easier to remember, it’s also easier to guess. In fact, many people fall victim to account hacking on the web because “password” is such a common password.

Instead, you’re encouraged to create a strong password that includes a mix of numbers, letters and symbols. You might also consider using a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters. Try to avoid including common words and phrases as these could be easier to get through using brute force hacking attempts.

3. Avoid Public WiFi

It seems like everywhere from your local coffee shop to your doctor’s office offers free WiFi these days, and it can tempting to do a little online shopping while waiting around. Unfortunately, public WiFi creates opportunities for identity thieves and financial hackers. The data you transmit over an unsecured public WiFi signal could potentially be captured in the middle of a transaction along with your personal data and even the password to your computer or smartphone.

Instead, you’re encouraged to only shop online using password-protected secure home networks. Even though this might mean you have to wait until you get home to make a purchase, it’s still better than dealing with the fallout from stolen credit card information or a hacked email or bank account.