Online holiday shopping safety
Every year, shopping online increases incredibly due to various deals and sales retailers make available online on their websites. This year, it is expected that e-commerce will grow 16.6 percent this holiday, up from last year’s 15.3 percent rise. In fact, it is expected that a whopping 101.7 million consumers in the United States will make purchases via their mobile devices this holiday season, reflecting a 37.3 percent growth over last year. It’s easy for retailers to lure consumers in with a variety of spectacular deals, but the deals aren’t always what they seem. Malicious individuals set up dummy sites to mimic retailers, in addition to taking advantage of paid ad services to lure consumers to making irresponsible online decisions. Here are a few tips and tricks for those who can’t resist shopping online during the holiday season.
Protect your computer
The most important part about shopping online is making sure your computer is protected. This involves making sure that the most recent Windows or Mac updates are installed on your machine, in addition to running anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Further, you should only shop on trustworthy websites, which you can determine by checking out the seller’s reputation on the Better Business Bureau’s website.
Too good to be true
More often than note, malicious sellers like to prey on those always searching for the best deal around. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails can often sound too good to be true, and most often are. Another important tip to remember is that legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order to lure you into revealing financial information.
Purchase items securely
Look in the URL address box when shopping for the “s” in “https://“ and in the lower-right corner of your browser for a lock symbol before paying. Both of these indicate that the site is encrypted. Further, it’s always best to use a credit card when shopping online. The reason? Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, a shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card. If you use your debit card, online criminals can easily drain the cash from your account, as opposed to just running up your credit limit. To be safe, you should always monitor your credit card statements online, rather than waiting for the paper bill so you can catch fraudulent or false charges immediately. Additionally, you should never use public computers to conduct transactions. Public computers may contain malicious software that steals credit card information when you place your order.
By following these simple tips and tricks, you can guarantee a safe online holiday shopping experience. For additional information about safe online shopping, please visit the following sites:
- US-CERT: www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST07-001.html
- National Cyber Security Alliance: www.staysafeonline.org/content/online-shopping
- OnGuard Online: www.onguardonline.gov/topics/online-shopping.aspx
- Online Cyber Safety: www.bsacybersafety.com/video/
- Microsoft: www.microsoft.com/protect/fraud/finances/shopping_us.aspx