Online shopping is easier and more popular than ever. In fact, 95% of Americans shop online at least yearly, and with online retail giants like Amazon and Zappos growing at record speeds, the frequency will only increase in the coming years. While the ease and popularity of online shopping make the option more alluring than visits to traditional retail stores, it comes with increased risk of financial and personal identity theft and frauds. According to Pew Research Center, 41% of Americans have encountered fraudulent charges on their credit cards. As an online shopper, you are constantly at risk of hackers scouring sites for your personal and financial information.
All of us at Eastern Insurance hope your holiday season is merry and bright, not full of digital hazards and fraudulent activity on your credit card statements, We have gathered information to help you make sure that you are taking the proper steps to protect and secure your online footprint. Here are seven ways you can ensure you are shopping safely online:
1: Know the advertiser.
James Condon from Marketing Experts Agency says “Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. If the site is missing contact information, that is a red flag”
2: Check a site’s security settings.
If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.
Robin Brown from Vivipins suggests “Make sure that when you make a purchase online, you are conscious of if the site is secure or not. You do not want your information being compromised in this day and age”
3: Be a savvy shopper.
When shopping online, be sure to take your time, and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy. Although many online orders can be returned for a full refund, others have restocking fees and some items cannot be returned. Know before you buy.
4: Protect personal information.
5: Think before your click.
Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals or trendy clothing that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.
6: Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals.
Mark Lumb from Domain Knowledge says “Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs or your purchase may automatically register you for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.”
7: Beware of phishing.
Phishing emails can look like a message from a well-known brand, but clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft. One popular scam claims to be from a package-delivery company with links to “tracking information” on an order you never made. Don’t click!
8: Shop with a credit card.
In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections. It’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
9: Keep documentation of your order.
Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation until you receive the item and are satisfied. Be sure to know and understand the return policy and keep this documented with your purchase records.
10: Keep a clean machine.
Install a firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer, tablet, and smartphone.