The holidays are almost here and soon the holiday shopping season will begin! Here are some tips to help you stay safe while shopping online:
- Use up to date software: Verify that your operating system, antivirus, and browser have appropriate updates and patches installed.
- Do not use public computers or public wireless for your online shopping. Public computers may contain malicious software that steals your credit card information when you place your order. Additionally, criminals may be intercepting traffic on public wireless networks to steal credit card numbers and other confidential information.
- Is the business and website legitimate? Limit your online shopping to merchants you know and trust. If you have questions about a merchant, check with the Better Business Bureau and/or the Federal Trade Commission. Confirm the online seller's physical address, and phone number in case you have questions or problems.
- Look for "https" when making an online purchase. The "s" in "https" stands for "secure" and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted.
- Pay with a credit card. Debit cards do not have the same consumer protections as credit cards. Credit cards are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act and may limit your liability if your information was used improperly. Check your statements regularly.
- Keep a Paper Trail: Save records of your online transactions, including the product description, price, online receipt, terms of the sale, and copies of email exchanges with the seller. Read your credit card statements as soon as you get them to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized charges. If there is a discrepancy, call your bank and report it immediately.