How can you best protect yourself when shopping online?


Everyone buys something online from time to time. You don't even have to leave the house when you need groceries, clothes or other stuff. But our online buying behavior is monitored by web shops, and that costs us money.

It must have happened to you. You plan to book a holiday, go to a price comparison site where you can buy airline tickets and look around a bit about how much you'll spend on a return ticket. You decide to sleep on it. The next day you take the plunge and decide that the plane tickets are worth it anyway and go back to the website to buy the tickets. There you see that the price is suddenly 20 percent higher than yesterday.

These sudden price increases are typical of airline tickets websites, but they also occur on other booking sites. All these automatic changes in price on commercial websites can be traced back to how our consumer behavior is monitored by these online stores.

Anyone who searches for products, makes purchases or views information online leaves behind a digital trail of information. Information that says something about your preferences, your plans, your identity. The more online stores know about you, the better they can predict your future buying behavior and the more targeted they can display ads and that's why the information they collect about you is worth gold to webshops and they do everything they can to learn more and more about you.

How can you best protect yourself when shopping online?

To prevent online stores from influencing you commercially or adjusting their prices to future digital purchases, it's important that you protect yourself online when you shop on the internet and there are different ways to do that.

If you visit a website with the aim of buying something there at some point, we recommend that you always do so Incognito. Virtually every internet browser offers the option to go incognito. Whoever uses an incognito napkin leaves as little digital information as possible when surfing. However, there are still ways websites can track you or keep your information when you visit their pages.

Another very efficient way to protect yourself online is through a free VPN service. Basically it means that you're completely invisible to a website and that website can't even know your geographic location.

One of the ways websites collect information about you is through cookies. You will have seen the notifications about cookies on many websites (and immediately clicked away) but cookies are actually small archive folders of websites about their visitors that are stored within your own browser. To ensure that websites can't create these archives, you can delete your cookies once in a while. This basically means that the websites have "lost all the information they have stored about you" in your browser.

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