Holiday Shopping: Is Online Shopping Safe?
by Original Author: Kris Boulton, Saline County | Adapted for Blog: Pamela Luker, Pope County
Is Online Shopping Safe?
The holiday season is here. Due to COVID, most people are looking to shop online instead of shopping in person. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year many cyber criminals go to work to scam you out of your money and identity.
How can I protect myself when shopping online?
- When possible, purchase from websites you know, trust, and have done business with.
- Verify the website has a legitimate mailing address and phone number for sales or to add support. If the site looks suspicious, call and speak to someone in person. If you can’t talk to a real person, that may be a sign you are dealing with someone who is not legitimate.
- Look for warning signs, like deals that are too good to be true or poor spelling.
- Be suspicious of a website that mimics a well-known website you have used in the past.
- Type the store’s name or URL into a search engine and see what other people have said about the website in the past. A lack of reviews may indicate the website is very new and it might not be trustworthy.
- Before purchasing any items, make sure your connection to the website is encrypted. Look for the lock and/or the letters https in green right before the website’s name.
- Shop early! Since the beginning of COVID, it is taking longer to fill orders and ship them, especially if the company is smaller. Allow plenty of time for orders to be filled.
In addition to shopping smart, you will want to keep your devices secure. Cyber criminals will try to infect your devices so they can access your bank accounts, credit card information, and passwords.
How can I keep my devices secure?
- If you have children in your house, consider having two devices, one for you and one for the children. Children are naturally curious and like to interact with technology; which may be more likely to become infected. By using a separate computer just for online shopping and banking, you reduce the chance of becoming infected.
- Keep your computer up-to-date. Always install the latest updates and run up-to-date anti-virus software. This makes it harder for cyber criminals to infect your device.
Should I use a debit card or credit card when shopping online?
Use a credit card over a debit card when making online purchases. Debit cards take money directly from your bank account, so if fraud has been committed, it can be more difficult to get your money back. Be sure to check your credit card statements for errors. By detecting fraudulent charges early, you may have more success at having those charges erased and stopping the criminal activity. Consider using credit cards that generate a unique card number for every online purchase, gift cards, or well-known payment services, such as PayPal.