Millions of Americans will be using online shopping to fill their gift lists this holiday season. But along with an increase in internet commerce will likely come an increase in scams and theft. To keep yourself safe, follow these online shopping safety tips.
1. Update your security software. Software developers regularly release updates to address security concerns in their programs. Make sure your computer, tablet, and smartphone are all updated.
2. Exercise caution with emails. If you doubt the validity of an email, don’t open it and delete it. Never answer emails which ask for sensitive personal information like account numbers, and don’t follow links in suspicious emails.
3. Remember the rule: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. You can get some good deals through online shopping, but it shouldn’t be suspiciously good.
4. Watch out for Wifi. Don’t do your online shopping through a public wifi connection, since your information could be stolen this way. Use your home network or a mobile data connection instead.
5. Check out the website. If you see a lock symbol in the address bar, or “https” or “shttp” in the address itself, this indicates a safe website. Your personal information will be encrypted and secured when you enter it. Don’t use unsafe websites for online shopping, as your credit card number may be vulnerable to hackers.
6. Use a credit card. Credit cards are, in general, safer for online shopping than debit cards. Your card company probably has a policy on limiting your liability in the case of theft. Never mail cash or wire money for an online purchase.
7. Check your statements. Keep receipts for online purchases, and compare them to your monthly account statements to rule out fraudulent charges.
8. Be wary of giving out too much information. Only give the information required to complete the purchase. For example, asking your credit card number is reasonable; requesting your Social Security number is not.