10 Tips for safe online shopping
Online shopping is often more fun and more convenient than going to a store. You don’t have to fight traffic, search for a parking space or deal with crowds, and you can pick out the exact items that you want. In addition, getting your purchases in the mail can be exciting, especially when you don’t know exactly when they will arrive. However, you need to practice good safety habits when shopping online so that you don’t fall for scams or give your credit card information to anyone but legitimate business owners. Read on for the top 10 tips to use to help protect yourself while shopping online.
1. Stick to websites you know you can trust.
If you use sites such as easionline.com that you already know are legitimate businesses, you won’t have to worry about buying things that are never delivered or giving your personal info directly to thieves. If you’d rather shop from smaller sites, check to make sure they are legitimate first. Search for them in Google to make sure other customers haven’t had problems and look for medallions on the site from the Better Business Bureau or other organizations that verify businesses are legitimate.
3. Don’t buy from sites that are not secure.
Most legitimate websites use secured pages to collect credit card info and other personal info. Secured websites begin with “https” rather than “http.” Your browser may also display a lock in the bottom left corner or top left corner if the website is secure.
4. Click on the lock icon to get more information about the site’s security.
Most browsers will display security certificates or other information about the site’s security when you click on the lock icon. This helps you detect fake security icons. If nothing happens when you click on the lock icon, the site is probably not legitimate.
5. Look for the Verisign Trust Seal.
Verisign is a company that regularly checks websites to ensure that their security certificates are current and that the website is free of viruses, spyware and other items harmful to visitors’ computers. The seal will be listed next to the website’s listing on Google and other search engines as well as on the site itself.
6. Pay attention to messages about SSL certificates.
Secure Socket Layers, or SSL, certificates help ensure that your information is encrypted so that third parties can’t intercept it. Legitimate businesses purchase these certificates to increase their trustworthiness. The certificate identifies the owner of the site; if it is expired or out of date, your browser will warn you that the certificate is incorrect and ask you if you want to continue to the site. Don’t shop at sites that have invalid or missing SSL certificates.
7. Take extra precautions when shopping on shared computers.
If you use a library or other public computer to purchase items online, the computer itself is not as secure as your home computer. You never know who might use the computer next, so make sure you log out of all shopping sites, email sites and other sites containing personal information before you leave the computer terminal. You should also clear the browser’s cache and delete all cookies from the browser so that the next user cannot access your information.
8. Only give personal information directly to the site you’re shopping from.
Never click on a link in an email to get a coupon or respond to emails by giving out your personal information. If you stick to a policy of only giving your personal information directly to the sellers you are doing business with, you can avoid falling victim to phishing scams, where crooks create fake email accounts, websites and forms to trick people into giving them credit card information.
9. Read the site’s terms and conditions.
10. Pay using a credit card rather than a debit card.
Credit card transactions are protected by federal law; if someone makes a fraudulent transaction using your card you can dispute it and won’t be required to pay it. It can be more difficult to dispute transactions with debit cards, and if you don’t report them in time, you may be liable for them.
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