Shopping Tips for Safe Online Buying
More people are avoiding malls and big-box stores, opting to shop online instead. During the holiday season, shoppers spend billions of dollars online. Someone is always looking for something, keeping online retailers happy throughout the year. Shopping online is easy and can even be fun but it can also be dangerous. Follow these shopping tips to stay safe when surfing the Web for the best deals.
Shop on Familiar Sites for Security
Rather than jumping on a search engine to find a product, shop on a familiar site. Search engine results can lead shoppers down scary paths, especially when visiting less-popular Web pages. A familiar site is more likely to be reliable. Look for websites of favorite brick-and-mortar retailers, spell site names carefully, and be wary of sites that use a.net domain. A simple mistake can land shoppers on a site that looks appealing but may be a front for stealing personal information.
Before entering payment information, make sure that Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption is installed on the site. This is identified by a URL that begins with HTTPS rather than HTTP. An icon of a locked padlock should also appear near the URL or in the status bar at the bottom of the Web browser page. Never supply a birthday or Social Security number when making payments because this can lead to identity theft.
Review Purchases and Protect the PC
Regularly check electronic statements for checking accounts, debit cards, and credit cards. Verify that all charges are legitimate and do the same when receiving monthly statements and bills. Some tricksters go to great lengths, cloaking themselves through debits from PayPal. Immediately address statement discrepancies by contacting the bank or credit card issuer. There is only a 30-day window to act without potential liability.
In addition to keeping the wallet safe, protect the computer. Some fraudsters insert malware on shopper computers to get personal data. Install an antivirus program that includes features that combat identity theft. Schedule regular antivirus scans and ensure that the software is updated regularly so the computer is not exposed.
One of the most common online shopping tips is to avoid making purchases from public computers. When shopping from a personal laptop or tablet in a public place, do so from the back of the establishment while facing the door. If shopping from a mobile device, use retailer-provided apps to find items and make purchases directly without visiting store websites.