November 14, 2014

It’s a great time to be a consumer. It would be difficult to find a major retailer that doesn’t offer e-commerce on its website and more retail apps are hitting the market all the time.

That’s why nearly 150 million Americans will use their mobile phones to make a purchase this year, and that number is only growing. In fact, mobile commerce will grow more than 37 percent in 2014 according to eMarketer, which compiles data from 120 sources that track commerce.

While mobile commerce can make holiday shopping a breeze, it can also open the door to new mobile threats that could put your personal and financial information at risk. Luckily these threats can be easily avoided with a little common sense and these tips:

1. Stick to window shopping on public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks are everywhere, but security for these networks tends to be scarce. When making purchases and entering personal information on your wireless device, rely on a secure network rather than public Wi-Fi.

2. Looks matter
If you feel like a website doesn’t look professional, there’s a good chance their security measures are just as lax. Stick to professional, brand-name e-commerce sites for the best results.

3. Go big
That doesn’t mean you can’t buy a hand-knit sweater from the sweet old lady down the street. Check to see if she’s on a professional shopping platform like Etsy or Society 6 before you trust her homegrown website with your info.

4. Look for the https://
Website URLs either start with http:// or https://. A quick way to check if the website you’re on is secure is to make sure the “s” is present in the URL.

5. Don’t click "save my info" unless you’re sure
Many sites will give you the option to save your credit card info for future purchases. Don’t let websites store your information unless you’re sure it will be encrypted. If you must store your credit card number, make sure your login password is very strong.

6. Don’t get phished
If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out when clicking unknown links from email and web banners so that you don’t end up unknowingly disclosing private information to scammers. Download Lookout Premium to stay safer from phishing links. Get it now for Android and iOS.

7. Be cautious with apps
More and more stores are developing apps to make shopping from your phone easier. Don’t forget that you can encounter the same threats that exist on e-commerce sites on mobile apps.

8. Download mobile security
Whether you’re using a retail app or an e-commerce website on your mobile phone, you may be checking out with more than you bargained for if you’re accidentally downloading malicious apps. Lookout will alert you if malware shows up on your phone and its Safe Browsing feature will let you know if you come across a website that may be phishing for your personal info.

Amy Johnsonbaugh is a communications manager for the Apps and Services team at Sprint. Based in Orange County, Calif., she can answer questions related to Sprint-branded or third-party consumer applications, music/entertainment applications, accessibility applications, Sprint ID and family service applications. Amy can be reached at