Online shopping is booming as more consumers take their business to e-tailers (electronic retailers) instead of the brick and mortar stores. After conducting a survey, the National Retail Federation estimates that approximately 52 million people, or 37% of shoppers, surf the web for the best deals. This number is continually growing as more products become available online and people gain confidence in shopping online. Though some people are still unsure of giving their credit card numbers in exchange for merchandise over the Web, the Internet is a relatively safe place to shop due to improved technology and e-shopping savvy consumers. Here are a few tips to keep you, your computer and your bank account protected while you shop online.
- Don't Give Out Your Personal Information Legitimate online retailers will never ask for your social security number at any time. Don't give it to retailers: if someone requests it, contact the company.
- Arm Your Computer You can protect yourself as you shop online simply by installing some basic security programs on your computer including anti-spyware, anti-virus and pop-up blocker programs. This software will keep your financial information and passwords safe and out of the site of cyber thieves and hackers.
- Use a Credit Card Credit cards are easy to use online-just enter the credit card name, number and expiration date. There's another important reason to use a credit card, if fraud occurs or you don't get the product that you purchased, you can dispute the charges. However, if you use a money order or debit card, the money is usually gone without dispute.
- Don't Respond to Unsolicited eMail Never buy things or confirm your billing information through an unsolicited email, especially if you don't recognize the source. Legitimate online retailers will never ask for your credit card number through an email. If you receive an email of this type, contact the company immediately.
- Ensure the Connection is Secure When you click to purchase an item online, your browser connection should become secure. Look for two signs: the site address should read https or shttp instead of http, indicating a secure connection, and small lock should appear in the browser toolbar.
- Research Unknown Retailers If you're not familiar with the retailer, do some research before entrusting them with your credit card. Make sure they have a phone number and a mailing address. You may want to call them before making a purchase. You can also research the company on TRUSTe, Verisign and BBBOnline (Better Business Bureau).
With a few simple precautions, online shopping can save you time, money and keep you, your money and your information 100 percent safe.
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Willis, G. (2005). Get the best online deals. Retrieved Nov. 23, 2005, from CNN.com Web site: http://money.cnn.com/2005/11/23/pf/saving/willis_tips/.
WRAL, (2005). Shopping online? 8 fraud tips to protect you. Retrieved Nov. 23, 2005, from WRAL.com Web site: http://www.wral.com/money/5383731/detail.html.