Andy Green's Blog

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Tips For Shopping Safely Online

Shopping safely online should be foremost on your mind before you hand over your financial details to any web store. Luckily, shopping online isn’t as risky as it used to be and millions of safe transactions are made each year. Still there are a few things to look for to ensure you have a safe shopping experience.

The best tip for shopping safely online is to make sure you do business with a reputable website. Just because someone creates a fancy looking website, it doesn’t mean it is a safe one. Investigate the company first as best you can. Even if you think you are shopping at a well known offline company, double check the URL in your browser’s toolbar. A common trick of identity thieves is to create a dummy site that looks identical to the real one. The only way you may be able to tell for sure is by looking at the website address. Another time to examine the toolbar is when you are entering your financial details into the order form. To indicate a site is secure the URL will begin with https instead of http. Some browsers will even display a secured site icon such as a closed lock to let you know it is safe to enter your personal details.

If the site you are ordering from does not have a well known offline reputation then you should be even more careful. Make sure the site displays a street address as well as a telephone number. The site should have both a ‘contact us’ and ‘privacy notice’ page. Additionally, the website may have third party endorsements such as a Better Business Bureau graphic or a Trust-e icon. Click those to make sure it pulls up the company’s profile and the graphics were not just stolen by an identity thief.

To help you decide if the website is reputable, run a web search on the site to see what other people are saying about them. Word of mouth is a great way to tell if the company delivers as promised or if they have ripped people off in the past.

Another tip for shopping safely online is that when you provide your financial and personal information, give only what is absolutely required. There should never be a reason to have to give your social security number when ordering products online.

Most credit cards and banks will reimburse you if your card was used fraudulently online. To help ensure you are shopping safely online, create a special account that you only use online, or pick up a prepaid credit card to use. That way you don’t have to worry about anyone getting to your main financial account. Even though reputable companies work hard to protect your information, at times hackers can still break into a database and steal credit card information.

Ultimately, it is up to you to protect your identity and your finances. Check your statements closely and check your credit report periodically to make sure everything is as it should be. By following these safe online shopping tips and keeping tabs on your accounts, you can enjoy the convenience and variety of choice that shopping online offers and have peace of mind knowing you are shopping safely online.


October 11, 2008 - Posted by | Online Security | ,

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