Use Caution When Shopping Online

March 03, 2015

Online stores offer easy and convenient alternatives to people wishing to avoid the hassle of conventional retail outlets, especially during the holidays. Virtual storefronts are open 24 hours a day and let you compare prices and products with just a click. There is never any traffic and your entire holiday shopping can be taken care of in an afternoon. While online stores offer a number of advantages, shoppers need to be aware that thieves are ready to take advantage of unwary consumers.

Who Are You Really Buying From?

There are hundreds of reliable and trustworthy online retailers; chances are you have purchased something from them in the past. Scammers and thieves can set up phony websites meant to lure shoppers in with great deals. Once the thieves have collected a shopper’s financial information, the website is destroyed and no trace is left. How can you avoid this kind of scam? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Know what you are shopping for. If you are looking for the year’s most popular toy or gift item, have a good idea of how much you are likely to pay for it. Scammers list these items at deep discounts to make it look like you are getting a great deal. As usual, if a deal looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
  • Shop from trusted retailers. Online retailers take electronic security seriously and have implemented protocols that help protect the information of shoppers. Phony sites are frequently made to resemble these trusted sites but will not have the same URL. This information appears on the address bar of your Internet browser. If the URL looks unusual or unexpected, do not enter any information.
  • Do not send password information through email. Authentic online retailers and their customer service associates will not ask for your account password through email. If an email appears to be from a retailer you trust but asks you for password information anyway, do not reply.
  • Be familiar with fraud protection features on your credit card or payment accounts. These features exist to help you and to protect your finances. Do you know how to file a complaint? Become familiar with how fraud is handled by your credit card company or the online payment firm you use.
Keep Track of Your Purchases

Online retailers send confirmation notices, electronic receipts, and other important notices to the email account you provide. Save each one of these until the items have been received and verified. Any returns, exchanges, or refunds are likely to require the information contained in these emails and they will provide important documentation should any problems arise with a transaction.

Be Careful When Donating to Charitable Causes

Online thieves develop websites to resemble popular charitable causes and will collect personal financial information this way, too. If charitable donations are part of your family’s holiday tradition, make sure you do a little digging to determine whether or not a website is actually connected with the charity you wish to donate to.

Protect Your Electronic Financial Information

If you have a payment card with an RFID chip, then you need to take steps to safeguard this form of electronic information, too. A Stealth Card will keep these cards safe from thieves using RFID scanners.