Using the Internet for shopping is fast, convenient, and can land you some great deals. However, there are also unscrupulous individuals out there just waiting to take advantage of people. They may be interested in more than just your money; they might want to steal your identity. Here are some ways to avoid becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft scams when doing online shopping.
Step 1: Do not click on unfamiliar sites without first doing some research. When looking for items, visit only the most popular price comparison sites such as Shopping.com, Dealio, and PriceGrabber. Do not allow a search engine to select a site for you because the results may include fraudulent sites. Look for Cybertrust or VeriSign security indicators on the site. Ensure that https is contained in the URL on pages where personal information is entered.
Step 2: Use a single credit card for payment. If you do not have one, a debit card can be used, but any theft must be reported within two days in order to receive the $50 limited liability that is also offered by credit cards. Debit card losses reported within 60 days can subject consumers to up to $500 in liability. After that time, liability is unlimited with debit cards. Alternatives include making secure cash payments through services like EBillme or PayPal. Do not wire money for online auction site purchases because there is no way to recoup it if the item does not arrive.
Step 3: Monitor any accounts used for online shopping. Regularly review these to ensure that no unauthorized purchases appear. Print out or save email receipts into a folder to check them against billing statements.
Step 4: Do not shop using public Wi-Fi connections because these can be tapped into by hackers. In addition, do not use a public computer to check accounts online or shop.
Step 5: Do not click on unsolicited emails for shopping, even if they appear legitimate. Along the same lines, do not click on URLs contained on social networking sites. These URLs are often shortened, so it is difficult to tell if the links will take you to the retailer sites. In both cases, go directly to the Web site of the retailer.