Online shopping is convenient and for that reason it has been steadily growing in popularity since the internet first made its way into homes throughout the world. In today’s technology age, it’s not only easy for consumers to make purchases online, it’s also easy for fraudsters to take advantage of vulnerable consumers and wreak financial havoc.
Keep yourself safe when you shop online with these 5 safety tips that can help keep you from becoming a victim.
1. Don’t click on links in emails
You’ve heard this one a thousand times and it’s worth repeating once more. Emails with links to shopping sites are easily duplicated, so even if it’s from a brand or store that you know, don’t click the link. Instead, type in the web address of the store and navigate to the sale page.
If it’s a legitimate sale, you should see a section or page on the site dedicated to the sale. If it’s a coupon code, the code itself should be printed in the email so you can type it into a coupon box at the checkout. If you must click the link to get to the sale, it’s probably a fake email and you should follow up with the brand or store to report the fraud.
2. Only shop on secure websites
Secure websites have encryption technologies that prevent thieves from seeing your information or intercepting your credit card number. You can find logos on websites that tell if they are secure or not.
You can also look at the web address. Sites that begin with https are typically secure, while http is not. If you want to make a purchase from a website, but it’s not secure, try to call and make the purchase over the phone instead. If you can’t, you might want to re-think the transaction.
Say you’re looking for things to do in Chicago, you’ll make sure that the site you’re visiting, such as that Groupon link, has https in the address.
3. Don’t give out your social security number
Again, this is probably obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people fall for this age-old trick every day. There is no reason you should ever need to give out your social security number when making a purchase. If you want to apply for a store credit card before making your purchase, call the customer service number and speak with a representative.
You don’t want to run the risk of someone getting ahold of your information that shouldn’t have it, so be smart about giving out your social security number. If an identity thief gets ahold of it, they can use it to open fake accounts in your name and wreck your credit. One small mistake online can lead to years of regrets and consequences.
4. Change your passwords frequently
If you bank online or do any type of transaction online that requires you to have an account, you need to change your password periodically. Don’t just switch between two passwords, have several to choose from and change it frequently.
Changing your passwords can prevent someone who gains access to your information from having a valid, working password. Another thing to note is that you don’t want your email password, banking password and other accounts to all be the same. If you do that an a thief gets ahold of one password, he has everything and you are finished.
5. Take advantage of free identity-theft protection
Many credit cards offer this perk that protects you against fraudulent charges. Take advantage of the protection and use your credit card for your online transactions rather than a bank card or checking account. Then, if something does happen, the credit card company can handle the fraudulent charges and issue you a new card with a new number to stop further false purchases.
Being smart about your online shopping can make the difference between being a savvy shopper and a victim. Just one small mistake can lead to years of trouble, so take the proper precautions now and avoid problems in the future.
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