Safe Online Shopping

Author: Lenette Votava

During the 2018 holiday season, Americans spent $123-billion buying gifts online. With every purchase you make, you are giving your credit card number to yet another online retailer.

While you can enjoy the convenience of online shopping this holiday season, protect yourself by following these valuable tips for safer online shopping.  

Use credit, not debit

Credit card charges have a built-in delay, so refunds can happen quickly. Debit card charges hit your account immediately, and getting a refund could take weeks longer.

Too good to be true?

There are some amazing Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, but an email offer that seem too good to be true may be a scam. Email scams at this time of year may impersonate well-known retailers, and  may include harmful links. Instead of clicking on an email link, visit the retailer’s website directly to find out about special holiday deals.

Stick to online stores you know

You see an ad for an item you want to purchase online, but the merchant is unfamiliar. You may want to consider looking for the same product on Amazon or another reputable online store you recognize. If in doubt, you can check a merchant’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.

Shop at home

Public, free WiFi is fine for occasional use, but not for financial transactions of any kind. A competent hacker can easily monitor your activity on public WiFi. It’s best to use a mobile data plan, or do your online shopping at home.

Online stores should always ask for your 3-digit security code

Requiring the security code from the back of your card  helps the seller verify you have the actual credit card,and not just the number from the front of the card. If a web site requests your social security number, birth date or other information to verify your identification, look for a different online merchant. There’s no reason for you to provide that type of information for an online purchase. 

Look for the familiar padlock icon at the top of your browser

The padlock icon indicates that any transactions on the website will be private. You might notice that secure websites start with “HTTPS” The “S” stands for “Secure.”

Review your statements

Pay particular attention to your credit card statements as the holiday bills appear. Look for charges that you don't recognize, and contact your credit card company to report anything that doesn't look right.

For additional online shopping tips, go to: https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/online-safety-basics/online-shopping/