Online Shopping Safety
Secure Your Computer
Make sure your computer has the latest security updates installed. Check that your anti-virus and anti-spyware software are running properly and are receiving automatic updates from the vendor. If you have not already done so, install a firewall before you begin your online shopping.
Upgrade Your Browser
Upgrade your internet browser to the most recent version available. Review the browser’s security settings. Apply the highest level of security available that still gives you the functionality you need.
Secure Your Transactions
Look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar and be sure “https” appears in the website’s address bar before making an online purchase. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates that the communication with the webpage is encrypted. Also look for a broken key symbol indicating a non-secure connection. Some browsers can be set to warn the use if they are submitting information that is not encrypted.
Be Wary of Potential Scams
If the online offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Cyber criminals will look to take advantage of the volume of online shoppers to temp users to fall prey to online scams.
Use Strong Passwords
Create strong passwords for online accounts. Use at least eight characters, with numbers, special characters, and upper and lower case letters. Don’t use the same passwords for online shopping websites that you use for logging onto your bank, home or work computer. Never share your login information with anyone.
Do Not Email Sensitive Data
Never email credit card or other financial/sensitive information. Email is like sending a postcard and other people have the potential to read it. Beware of emails requesting account or purchase information. Delete these emails. Legitimate businesses don’t solicit information through email.
Ignore Pop-Up Messages
Set your browser to block pop-up messages. If you do receive one, click on the “X” at the top right corner of the title bar to close the pop-up message.
Do Not Use Public Computers or Public Wireless to Conduct Transactions
Don’t use public computers or public wireless connections for your online shopping. Public computers could potentially contain malicious software that steals your credit card information when you place your order. Criminals could be monitoring public wireless networks for credit card numbers and other confidential information.
Review Privacy Policies
Make Payments Securely
Pay by credit card rather than debit card. Credit/charge card transactions are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Cardholders are typically only liable for the first $50 in unauthorized charges. If online criminals obtain your debit card information they have the potential to empty your bank account.
Use Temporary Account Authorizations
Some credit card companies offer virtual or temporary credit card numbers. This service gives you a temporary account number for online transactions. These numbers are issued for a short period of time and cannot be used after that period.
Select Merchants Carefully
Limit your online shopping to merchants you trust. Confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number beforehand. If you have problems, concerns, or questions regarding a merchant, check with the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission. Don’t forget to review merchant’s return policies to avoid product return issues.
Keep a Record
Keep a record of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and copies of every email you send or receive from the seller. Review your credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges.
Online Shopping Problems
If you encounter problems with an online shopping site contact the seller or site operator directly. If those attempts are not successful, you may wish to contact the following entities: