Safe Online Shopping

Shopping online has grown in popularity over the years.  It's certainly convenient, but you must be aware of the risks and take steps to ensure a safe shopping experience. 

The benefits of online shopping are easy to identify.  Stores are always open and you don't have to deal with crowds.  It's easy to research and compare products before making a decision.  And you can also find some good deals with the click of a mouse. Look for discounts and coupon codes before buying. Try for starters.

However, shopping online does have its negatives:

  • You don’t always know if a website is legitimate or secure.
  • You must use a credit card or debit card.
  • It can be difficult and expensive to return an item.
  • Shipping and handling costs can be expensive.
  • You are not able to try out anything before you buy.
  • It's easier to overspend because online shopping can be addicting.


Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Keep these guidelines in mind and you'll be sure to have a safe and enjoyable online shopping experience:

  • Only provide private information to secure sites that have an “s” after the http (https://) – and look for a picture of a “lock” next to the https.
  • Check to make sure the website provides clear and detailed contact information (street address, telephone number(s), fax, e-mail, etc.).  Scam websites often lack specific contact information.
  • If you're unsure about a website, do a search to see if there are any consumer reviews or opinions about the website.
  • If you're concerned about sharing your private information, consider using a payment service like PayPal that does not reveal your private information.
  • If you buy online, always check your credit card statement to make sure everything is correct and that there are not any unwanted or unknown charges.
  • Stick with popular websites that you trust.
  • Check the company’s privacy policy to see how they will use your information.
  • Never click on a random pop-up window. If you don’t know where it came from, close it! Pop-up windows can carry viruses.  If a website generates pop-up windows, you may even want to leave the website.
  • Never send private information, such as a credit card number or a checking account number, in an e-mail.
  • In the event of fraud or unwanted charges, it will be more difficult to get your money back if you pay with a debit card than if you pay with a credit card.  Under the Fair Credit and Billing Act, your liability for a lost or stolen credit card is only $50.
  • Do not use an unsecured network or Internet connection to shop online.  Unsecured networks are typically found in public places such as a library or restaurant.