With a little knowledge, you can make your online shopping experience safe and secure.
If you are uncertain whether online shopping is safe, you are right to be concerned. There ARE online shopping sites that may not do an adequate job of protecting your financial date or the privacy of your personal information.
But if you are careful and follow a few simple guidelines, your online shopping experience can be safe and secure.
Look on the ‘About Us’ or ‘Company Background’ page and find their mailing address. If the company only lists a Post Office Box mailing address, you may want to steer clear.
Try consumer rating sites that list businesses and provide customer references from online shoppers just like you. www.epinions.com and www.bizrate.com are two sites you might find helpful.
When you purchase products online, some companies will ask you for a lot of extraneous information (what other types of products you buy online, how many other people live in your household, what size you wear, etc.).
You don’t have to answer these questions, and you DON’T have to check the boxes that allow the vendor to sell your email address to others who want to market online shopping products to you. Complete the basic information required to finish your purchase and ONLY that information.
Some companies will allow you to register for an online account.
Unless you plan to buy from this vendor often, DON’T sign up for an account. Just complete your purchase as a ‘guest’ or ‘unregistered’ customer.
The vendor’s data base will not permanently store your credit card or personal information if you do not register for an account. So you can be sure that your information will only be used for THAT purchase.
NEVER shop in an online store that requires you to give your social security number, bank account information or personal information like your mother’s maiden name.
If you want to be especially careful about online shopping, you can set your internet security settings so that they do not accept ‘cookies’. Cookies are files that are stored on your computer to more easily load and bring you back to information you searched or bought on a website when you return to that website to shop again.
But you don’t NEED cookies if you know the website address for the online store. You can just type in the website address from scratch.
You can also check to be sure that your browser supports 128-bit encryption. The encryption process translates your credit card and personal information in a ‘code’ so that it is harder for thieves to grab your personal data.
If the online shopping site you are considering is encrypted, the address on the page you are viewing will begin with ‘https’, instead of just ‘http’, and there may be an image of a padlock in the bottom right corner of the web page.
If you DO choose to store your data so you can more easily return for online shopping, be sure that you choose a password that does not relate to information you have already stored (no address, phone number or name related passwords) and make your password a combination of numbers and letters to make it harder to figure out.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, credit cards are the safest way to pay for your online shopping purchases. In most cases, your credit card company will support you in any disputes over valid charges if someone steals your credit card information.
If you charge something on an online shopping site, check online a day or two later to see if the charge shows up. If there appears to be any problem with the name of the vendor, the amount of the charge or anything else that looks strange, call your credit card company immediately.
If you follow these simple guidelines, your online shopping experience will be safer and more satisfying!