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Shop Smart Online and Stay Secure

January 12, 2012 by Editor in Shop with 0 Comments

The online world has exploded over the last decade. You can find just about anything you are looking for, and buy just about anything you need, online. Shopping from the comfort of your own home — or anywhere you find yourself — is very convenient, especially when you lead a busy lifestyle.

Convenience is a valuable commodity, but security is just as equally important. You can shop smart online by following a few simple rules.

 

Nine Rules for Shopping Securely Online:

  • Only shop on secure websites. You can determine this by looking for these three indicators:
    • Make sure the URL of the site begins with “https” when you go to check out and actually make your purchase. The presence of the “https” tells you the domain has a security certificate.
    • Look for a closed padlock displayed at the bottom of your screen. If the lock is open, assume the site is not secure.
    • Look for a unbroken key symbol. As long as it is unbroken you are on a secure site.
  • An oldie, but a goodie — make sure you have a secure password. Three ways to keep it secure:
    • Don’t tell anyone what it is! You’d be amazed how many people are still giving their passwords to other people for one thing or another. And if you use that password for one thing, it stands to reason you will use it for others, even though you shouldn’t.
    • Don’t use obvious passcodes. Use a combination of caps and lower-case letters, numbers, symbols if allowed … FYI – phrases are much more secure than single words.
  • Research the company. Online sites like Bizrate and Epinions give unbiased reviews of eCommerce sites and their products. This is a great way to find out what your peers’ opinions are from their experience before you make your first purchase.
  • Look for third-party seals of approval. The BBB (Better Business Bureau) and TRUSTe  are trusted companies that have rigorous standards which must be met by online sites to receive their seals for online security.
  • Be aware of spoof websites — check the URL to make sure there is not some slight “typo” in the domain name. It is very easy to copy a legit site, change a letter in a domain name, and fool unsuspecting online shoppers into buying something that is actually a bogus attempt to get your credit card information.
  • Never click on a link directly in an email if you are unfamiliar with who is sending it to you … type the URL directly in your browser instead. What the typed link is in your email, and what it actually links to, could be two different things.
  • Don’t use a debit card online. Either use a credit card or PayPal account (PayPal also offers a credit card that only pulls from your PayPal account balance for sites that do not accept PayPal payments). These will offer you more protection, less liability and the money won’t come straight out of your banking account if your card is compromised.
  • Keep your computers and on-the-go devices secure. Always keep an updated version of anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your laptops, desktops, tablets and smart phones. Make sure you do a deep system scan no less than once a week.
  • Check your statements regularly, no less than twice a week, if you have access to your account balances online. This may sound like a lot, but trust me, it’s probably not enough. I had one of my accounts compromised not too long ago, and I was lucky to catch it the very day it happened, so I managed to get a full reversal of charges … but that was only because I checked my account statements like a fiend — and still do.

Bottom line, you can shop securely online as long as you are careful. These rules will help guide you to a safer, smarter online shopping experience.

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