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11.11.2009 / Internet Shopping 101

With just a click of the mouse, shoppers can buy nearly any product online - from groceries to clothes, to car and home loans. For many, the Internet has taken the place of shopping at the packed mall or driving miles to your favorite store in another state. Consumers expect merchants to not only make their products available on the web, but to make their process of shopping online fast, simple and secure. To keep your identity and your finances safe, we suggest that you take the following precautions when you buy anything over the Internet.

"The internet has taken the place of shopping at the packed mall or driving miles to your favorite store in another state."
  1. Keep your defenses up.
    Anyone who cruises the Internet using a high-speed connection should have a firewall, which is a barrier to help keep out destructive software programs and hackers. You should also have antivirus software, such as McAfee Scan or Norton AntiVirus.  Be sure to keep the software updated (the program will remind you periodically to download new files or updates to the program that detect new problems) and run scans weekly.
  2. Shop with secure sites.
    One of the most important tips- look for the padlock. One you’re ready to buy, you should be transferred from the online store’s regular site to a secure site where your transaction information is encrypted. How can you tell if the site is secure? Well, you can tell when you are dealing with a secure web site in three ways:
    • Look at the top of your screen where the web site address is displayed, You should see https://. The "s" that is displayed after "http" indicates that web site is secure. Often, you do not see the "s" until you actually move to the order page on the Web site.
    • Another way to determine if the site is secure is to look for a closed padlock displayed at the bottom of your screen. If that lock is open, you should assume it is not a secure site.
    • The third symbol that indicates you are on a secure site is an unbroken key.
  3. Stick with companies you know.
    Shop with companies you know and trust. If you do purchase from an unknown seller, such as a company or person who sells on an auction site like eBay, make sure you review feedback from other buyers- particularly the most recent feedback.
  4. Review the privacy policy.
    Some sites are great at keeping your private information private, while others don’t do such a great job. If you have any questions, review the privacy policy. A reputable company should have one available – and have it easy to find – on various places on their site! Also, if you don’t wish your information to be shared, make sure you read through all the “checked” boxes when registering or making an order!
  5. Review the return policy.
    Don’t be a victim of items that are not returnable. Before buying anything, check out how returns are handled. Some sites will make it very clear that they have a ‘no-hassle’ return policy, whereas other sites may charge a ‘restocking’ fee or stick you with the shipping charges- even if the mistake was on their end.

For more safety tips, visit www.safeshopping.org

With the holiday right around the corner, it’s important to keep these tips in mind before you shop online. Do you have any tips or suggestions to make shopping online safe? Please share them.

Posted at 01:28 PM | Permalink
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