If you are like me you do a lot of your holiday shopping online these days. While it can be very convenient, it also has its risks. As we are now into the thick of the holiday shopping season I thought I would share some tips for safer online shopping.
- Watch for Secure URLs
Any site you are shopping at should have a secure URL. Look for an “s” to be added to know that it is secure.
- Don’t Shop on Free Wi-Fi
If you are using free wi-fi, like at a coffee shop, do not shop from this. These are not secured and there can be people monitoring the traffic who can steal your credit card and other information.
- Use a Dedicated Card
Most of us have wallets full of different credit cards and debit cards. Rather than using many of them for shopping online, pick one as your dedicated online shopping payment. This makes it much easier to watch for fraudulent activity. Pick one that offers the most in protection for you. If you are using a debit or prepaid card this also helps you keep only enough money in the account to cover your purchases.
- Use Strong Passwords
I know you have heard this over and over again but it really is so important. If you are using “password”, “abc123” or something else easy like that you are just setting yourself up to be hacked. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special symbols (if allowed) to create stronger passwords. Make up a combination that makes it easier for you to remember. An example would be to think of a sentence like “My car is a 2014 Dodge Charger with 4 doors” then pull letters, numbers and symbols to represent that like “MC14dc4door$”
- Watch Your Statements
Be sure to check your statements for all of your credit cards and banks to watch for unknown charges. If you spot something you don’t recognize call the bank right away about the charges.
- Set Text or Email Alerts for Banking
Many banks now have options for you to set alerts when a purchase is made. Check out your banks apps and websites or call them and ask if they offer this service. This makes it easy to see when a transaction happens and is even faster than checking statements.
- Know the Merchant
Even if you shop online at major sites like Amazon, Best Buy, and other big companies know that not everything is sold by them directly. They have third party merchants that also sell on those sites. Be sure you understand who exactly you are buying from and read their specific policies.
- Update Your Computer and Apps
Make sure you are keeping your computer operating system and apps on all your devices updated. Many of these updates are for security reasons and will help keep you safer when shopping online.
- Read Descriptions Fully
Pictures online sometimes don’t accurately depict the actual items, especially with size or materials. Be sure to read the descriptions fully to make sure what you are ordering is what you really want.
- Check Refund and Return Policies
In case the item you buy arrives and is not right or you have changed your mind, make sure you read the refund and return policies before ordering. Can you return it at a local store? Do you have to pay for return shipping? Are all sales final? Is there a restocking fee?
- Save Your Receipts
You should get emails when you shop online verifying your order. Be sure to save all of these receipts. I create a folder in my inbox just for shopping receipts so I can easily find them if I need them later on.
These tips should help you have a safer online shopping experience. There is no need to be afraid to shop online, but you do need to understand the precautions before you begin.
Have you had any experiences with online shopping that were negative? What did you learn from that? Share any extra tips you have in the comments![signoff]
© 2015, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.