We welcome online shopping because of its convenience. It has many advantages. The Internet makes it easy to compare prices, shop quickly and avoid the crowds. But it can also put you at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft if you don’t take the proper precautions.
Here are some important Dos and Don’ts, especially for the beginners, for online shopping to protect your personal information and reduce your risk of becoming a victim of a scam or identity theft:
DO: Select your own seller. If you use a search engine to find out which online retailers might have an item you’re looking for, don’t click on any of the links on the search result page. As many as three results per page are poisoned results (that is, fraudulent sites that likely will misuse any personal information you enter). Instead, go directly to a retailer’s site or use a price-comparison site, such as Amazon.com or PriceGrabber.com. Even if you’re using a site that you think is legitimate, look for a security label, such as VeriSign or Cybertrust, and for https:// in the URL on pages that prompt you to enter personal information.
DO: Always shop at home. Never make purchases online using a public Wi-Fi connection. Hackers can tap into Wi-Fi connections at hot spots, such as coffee shops, airports and hotels, to capture your personal information. Also, never use a public computer to shop or check accounts online.
DO: Pay with plastic. Make sure you use a credit card when making purchases online. If a hacker steals your debit card information and uses it to make unauthorized purchases, you must report any misuse within two days of learning of the fraud.
DO: Check your credit-card bill. If you do a lot of shopping online, review your credit card accounts regularly to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized purchases. It is suggested that you take a print out of your receipts or put e-mail receipts into a separate folder so that you can check your statements against your receipts. And if you have more than one credit cards then use only one card for your online purchases so that it will be easier for you to verify your purchase details.
DO: Shop smart with your smart phone or tablet. These devices make it easy to shop on the go, redeem coupons and compare prices in stores. But you could be putting your personal information at risk if you aren’t careful. For example, before you download shopping applications, check what sort of access they want to your phone. Opt for ones that require fewer permissions. For example avoid apps that want access to his contacts. And if you use your smart phone or tablet to shop online, click “no” when asked whether you want a site to remember your password. Otherwise, if anyone gets your phone will have easy access to your accounts.
DON’T: Fall for bogus bargains. If a Web site or individual offers a deal that’s too good to be true, demands a direct transfer of funds and won’t accept credit cards, it’s probably a scam. This sort of offer often appears in unsolicited e-mails. Don’t ever click on a link in an unsolicited e-mail to go shopping, even if the e-mail looks as if it came from a legitimate retailer. You’re safer going directly to a retailer’s site to see whether it’s having a sale rather than clicking on a link that could take you to a fraudulent site.
DON’T: Trust every deal you see on social-networking sites. Twitter and Facebook can be smart ways to stay on top of deals. But note that the URLs on Twitter (and sometimes Facebook) are often shortened, so you won’t know whether you’re landing on a legitimate retailer’s site by clicking the link. One option is to use a deal notification you see on Twitter as a tip, then research the details on your own.
DON’T: Wire money to pay for an item. If you purchase an item from an online auction site, such as eBay, and the seller asks you to wire your payment, don’t do it. Wiring money is inviting yourself to a fraud situation. You have no way to get your money back if the item you purchased never arrives. Pay with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if you don’t get what you paid for.
Wish you all a Safe Online Shopping!