Shop Safely - How to Protect Yourself When Shopping Online
Online shopping offers many benefits that you won't find
shopping in a brick and mortar store or by mail. The Internet is
always open seven days a week and 24 hours a day. Internet-only
deals and bargains can be numerous online. Shopping on the
Internet is no less safe than shopping in a store or by mail.
Keep the following tips in mind to help ensure that your online
shopping experience is a safe one.
1. While Online Order Only On A Secure Server. Use a secure
browser and shop only at websites that offer encryption
protection. A protected website will have one or more of these
three features: a) The small lock or key symbol at the bottom of
your browser window; b) An address that starts with https ("s"
for "secure") instead of just http; and c) A security warning
box that pops up at the point of purchase.
Your browser should comply with industry security standards,
such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). These standards scramble the
purchase information you send over the Internet, helping to
secure your transaction.
2. Pay The Safest Way. Use a credit card or Debit Card with a
safe online shopping guarantee. Look for a card with specific
guarantees, like 100% coverage for any losses due to fraud when
shopping on the Internet. Many companies offer an online
shopping guarantee that ensures you will not be held responsible
for any unauthorized charges made online, and some cards may
provide additional warranty, return and/or purchase protection
3. Protect Your Privacy. Look for and read a website's privacy
and security policy. Stay clear of a website that either doesn't
have one or does not guarantee your personal information will
not be sold. This policy should disclose what information is
being collected on the Web site and how that information is
4. Know Who You're Dealing With. Research your merchant. Look at
the ratings consumers give them and stay clear of websites that
either aren't listed or receive poor marks. Shop with companies
you know. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name.
If you're not familiar with a merchant, ask for a paper
catalogue or brochure to get a better idea of their merchandise
and services. Also, determine the company's refund and return
policies before you place your order. These should be posted on
the company's Web site.
5. Keep A Record. Print out a copy of your order and
confirmation number for your records. Reputable merchants will
usually send you an email confirming your order. However a hard
copy is always good to have in case your order is lost, deleted
or not delivered as promised.
6. Guard Your Online Password. Keep your password(s) private. Be
creative when you establish a password, and never share your
website passwords with anyone. Write them down and store them in
a safe place. Avoid using a telephone number, birth date or a
portion of your Social Security number. Instead, use a
combination of numbers, letters and symbols. Do not use the same
username and password at every website. Should your personal
information be compromised, a thief won't get very far if you
use different passwords and usernames on different websites. 7.
Track Your Purchases. Use only one credit card to shop with
online. This helps keep track of your online purchases during
the holidays, and will make it easier to spot purchases that are
fraudulent. Look for a card that allows you to review
transactions online as well -- you'll be more likely to notice a
problem early on.
8. Keep Personal Information Private. Don't enter more
information at a merchant website than is absolutely necessary.
There is usually no reason why you should have to supply
information such as birth dates or Social Security numbers when
making a purchase. Fill in only the bare essentials necessary to
make your purchase. If you have children, teach them to check
with you before giving out personal - or family - information