Are you tired of navigating crowded shopping malls and standing in long lines? Maybe you are frustrated with the poor selection in your local stores, or you need another way to shop when you’re tired or busy. Those are just some of the reasons more and more people are turning to online shopping. It’s convenient, and in most cases safe, but where there is money the thieves will follow. If you’re giving online shopping a try, or even if you’ve been doing it for years, make sure you follow these safety guidelines to prevent theft online.
Shop from home. Use your home internet connection when you shop. Public wifi networks are often open and unprotected, meaning anyone else on the network could potentially view your credit card data. Only send sensitive information across trusted networks.
Keep your equipment up to date. They might be annoying at times, but those update notifications on your laptop, smartphone, or tablet actually mean something. Developers sometimes learn about potential security vulnerabilities, and release updates to fix the problem. Installing these patches is one of the best ways to keep your information safe.
Check out your favorite websites. Does the website have a lock symbol in the address bar, or “https” at the beginning of its address? These are signs that you’re using a secure website.
Don’t give too much information. Exercise extreme caution when sending information online. An unscrupulous dealer might ask for more information than is necessary to complete a purchase, because they’re really wanting to steal your identity. Asking for your credit card number makes sense; no one needs your Social Security number to process a purchase, though.
Use a credit card, not a debit card. Your credit card company probably offers fraud protection (but check with them to be sure). In the event that your card number is stolen and used, you most likely won’t be responsible for the fraudulent charges. That is often not the case with debit cards, and one mistake could mean that your entire bank account is wiped out.
Review your card statements each month. It’s a chore that does take a few minutes of your time, but it’s worth it. Look for unfamiliar charges and report them immediately.
Be on guard for deals that are too good to be true. Plenty of scams exist online. If you can’t believe how great a deal is, it’s probably not real. Your purchased items might never arrive, or the quality will be extremely poor. Research and read reviews, when possible, before spending money online.
We’re dedicated to helping you keep your money safe. As you plan for retirement, we can help with budgeting or any other questions you might have, so please give us a call.
Portions of this article have been excerpted from “11 Tips for Safe Online Shopping” by Eric Griffith, www.pcmag.com. Eric Griffith is not affiliated with LPL Financial.