Safety Tips for Online Shopping

Posted by Diane H. Blackwelder on 9 December 2009 | 0 Comments


Whether you shop online routinely or infrequently, it will help to follow some precautions this holiday season. The risk of identity theft rises as you offer more and more information about yourself online.

Use only one credit card.
If you use but one credit card for all your online shopping, you'll just have to cancel one with limited exposure. It would be wise to keep a low credit limit on that particular card. Some credit card firms give you a really nice option - the choice of creating a unique, protected online transaction number for each purchase you make over the Web. So in other words, the retailer you're buying from doesn't actually see your credit card number - just this unique purchase number. In this case, should your credit card information be stolen, you don't have to cancel your card, and the credit card issuer has records of specific transactions that may help catch the bad guy.(source)

Avoid using debit cards.
Should your number be stolen, the thieves could potentially drain your checking account. Eventually, the Bank should reimburse you for most, if not all of the fraudulent transactions - but you may have a lengthy fight on your hands to get your money back. In the meantime, bills may go unpaid. Conversely, if the credit card number is stolen, you'll simply not pay the fraudulent charges while the bank investigates.

Look for the "https://"
When https:// appears in the address bar, it means you are transmitting data within a secure site. (You'll see a padlock symbol at the bottom of the browser window.) Look for the VeriSign or CyberTrust mark of security.

Watch what you click.
Pop-ups, attachments from mysterious sources, dubious links - don't be tempted to explore where they lead. Hackers have created all manner of "phishing" sites and online surveys - seemingly legitimate, but set up to siphon your information. It is better to be skeptical than to visit a fake PayPal site or to download spyware that is allegedly Norton Utilities or Panda AntiVirus. If anything seems weird, Google or Bing or Yahoo the merchant name and see what comes up.

Avoid using Wi-Fi.
You are really leaving yourself open to identity theft when you use a public wi-fi connection. Put away the laptop and wait until you leave that coffee emporium or airport terminal. Yes, hackers can tap into your Blackberry, iPhone or Smartphone via the same tactics by which they can invade your PC.


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