With online shopping becoming the norm, people have also become more susceptible to identity theft. It’s imperative that you be careful and mindful of how you shop online.
A November 2016 article in The Balance by contributor LaToya Irby outlines seven tips for safe online shopping:
- Conduct your online shopping only on websites you trust: It may sound obvious, but using your credit card to make online purchases only on those websites you know and trust could save you from becoming a victim of fraud. Never click on links provided via email; instead, type the entire URL of the website into your browser to open the site.
- Never shop from a public place: Public computers are susceptible to hacker technology, such as software that captures your keystrokes and retains your personal and credit card information. Additionally, public Wi-Fi is unsecured and, as such, could redirect your device to a fake internet connection that an identity thief can monitor and use to intercept your personal information.
- Keep your devices protected from viruses: Always stay up to date with virus and spyware protection software, and make sure you are using antivirus software that is reputable, not the type for which you receive an ad via email or in a pop-up window.
- Check with the BBB first: The Better Business Bureau marks websites with poor customer service records, so make sure to check out the credibility of the site in question using the BBB before making a purchase.
- Use credit cards, not debit cards: Credit cards have better protection services against fraud than debit cards, so you’re liable for fewer fraudulent charges if they occur. Additionally, you could lose access to your account and your funds while the financial institution sorts out a debit card that has been compromised, whereas with a credit card the only access that’s affected is that line of credit.
- Make sure the website you use is secured: Always look for the green lock symbol at the start of your URL browser, and make sure you type in the website using “https” to ensure the site is secured to encrypt your information when making online purchases.
- Keep track of your purchases with receipts: Just as with in-store purchases, printing a copy of the receipt of your online transaction will help you track your credit card activity. Use the printed copy to compare against your monthly credit card statement and watch for fraud.
In a November 2016 article in the Better Business Bureau by APR, CFEE Janet C. Hart recommends checking both your credit card activity and your bank account activity once a week, rather than waiting for the monthly statement. This ensures you catch fraudulent activity shortly after it’s occurred instead of finding out weeks later.
Hart also advises that we be wary of phishing scams—emails seemingly from a business claiming an error with your order or your account and asking you to confirm personal and identifying information. Legitimate businesses do not send these types of emails.
“Beware of ‘GREAT’ deals — if you find a website offering deals that seem too good to be true, they probably are. You may get a knock-off product, a product that is not the brand you ordered, or you may get nothing at all,” adds Hart.