Online shopping can be a great time and money saver, and as more of us turn to the Internet to find bargains and make life easier, so do the fraudsters with their scams - especially during the holidays. To help minimize your online shopping risks, we suggest you consider the following tips when shopping online.
If you are not sure, do not share.
Anyone can set up a website these days and fraudsters have become skilled at spoofing sites so be sure you are familiar with the retailer’s site before you give them any of your financial information.
Is the site secure?
Look for the ‘s’ in https:// and a small padlock at the bottom of the screen before entering any payment information.
Use only trusted, personal devices and secured networks.
Public computers and public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks can be dangerous places to conduct your online purchases. Only use trusted networks and devices when accessing or sharing financial information. Also, be sure your personal computers, devices, browsers, and apps are up to date to include the most recents patches.
Use a dedicated email and strong passwords.
Most online retailers require an email to place and confirm your order and manage your account. Consider using a dedicated email for all your online purchases that is separate from your personal and work email addresses. Not only will this keep receipts, coupons, and sale emails organized, but should your email be shared, your personal and work emails and contacts will remain more secure; and in the event it is ever compromosed, it will be easier to shut down.
Also, always be sure to create strong passwords with any online accounts that require or store your financial information.
Know the terms of your purchase.
Can the product be returned and if so, who pays the shipping fees? How long will the product take to ship? What does shipping cost? Read the fine print. If it is not clear or you have concerns, make the purchase elsewhere.
Consider payment options.
There are a variety of ways to pay for online purchases. Select and use a designated credit card or reloadable pre-paid debit card to help track your online purchases while minimizing your expsoure, or consider using a reputable online payment service such as Visa Checkout or PayPal when making purchases from lesser-known online retailers.
Save the receipt.
Be sure to save and/or print the transaction receipt that includes the order number, a customer service phone number, and any other vital order information you may need in case there is a problem with your order. Most importantly, review your bank and/or card account statements and transactions frequently to ensure you have been charged the correct amount for your purchases.
REMEMBER: Do not divulge too much information to anyone on the Internet. If a website is asks for your Social Security number or driver’s license number, do not share it.
Know your rights.
If you suspect you are a victim of fraud, contact the Federal Trade Commission at: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov, report it to the Better Business Bureau, and carefully monitor your bank accounts and credit reports. Visit our Reporting Suspicious Activity section for more information.