4 Tips for Online Shopping
Nearly 85% of the global online population purchased something online (Neilsen). With just one click of the mouse, shoppers can buy nearly any product online - from books to life insurance. Just like going to the store, it is important to take precautions when shopping online in order to make your online shopping experiences enjoyable and safe.
1. Shop at Secure Web Sites
Start at a trusted site rather than with a search engine. Search results can lead you astray, especially after the first few pages of results. If you know the site, chances are it's less likely to be a scam. A commonly used site is Amazon.com. They carry everything from books, to gift cards, to electronics. Remember that every major retail outlet has an online store, from Target to Home Depot. Be aware of the url or the site names and/or domains (like .com, .gov, etc). Sometimes sites use a .co instead of a .com or a site called Walstore.net instead of Walmart.com. Slight changes like this indicate insecure shopping. The sales might look enticing, but that's how they get you to give up your personal information.
2. Look for the Lock
How can you tell if a Web site is secure? Secure sites use technology to protect your personal information. If you look at the top of your screen there is a Web site address that is displayed. You should see https://. The "s" that is displayed after "http" indicates that the Web Site is secure. Another way to determine if the Web Site is safe is to look for the closed padlock at the bottom of your screen.
If the lock is open, you can assume that the site is not secure. Make sure to look for the lock, or the https before making your purchase online.
3. Don't Tell All
No online site is going to need your social security number or your birthday to do business. If someone were to get your social security number with your credit card number, they can do a lot of damage. You could put yourself in the risk of being a victim of identity theft. It is typical for an online store to ask for your Name and Address for shipping, but more personal questions should raise a red flag. Other information could be used for marketing purposes, but can also lead to "spam" or even telephone solicitations. Do not answer any question that you feel is not required to process your order. If you are not comfortable giving the information asked for, leave the site and find a different company for the product you are looking to purchase.
4. Safest Way to Pay
The safest way to shop online is with a gift card, so that there is no personal bank numbers being exchanged. Using PayPal is another safe way to complete your purchases.
In the case of banking cards, cash or checks, credit cards are the safest to use. Make sure your credit card is a true credit card and not a debit card, check card or an ATM card. Your checking account could be wiped out in 10 minutes. Only credit cards are protected by federal law. If something were to go wrong, you have the right to dispute charges under the " Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act". You don't have to pay the bill until you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems.
For more information on safe shopping online go to OnGuard Online.