Online shopping can be convenient and thrifty.
It can also be dangerous.
You don’t want strangers using your money to buy their holiday gifts, so keep yourself safe by following a few helpful tips from MPL Librarian Mary Pelton.
- Make sure you’re on a secure, encrypted site. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to tell if a site is secure. Make sure the URL of the website begins with https:// as opposed to http://. Some sites also use “padlock” icons to show they’re secure.
- Know who you’re buying from. Research the company’s reputation, return and privacy policies, restocking fees, and shipping and handling costs. All of this information should be stated on the company’s website. You should also check for reviews and buyer feedback if you’re buying from an individual.
- Only provide the necessary information when you’re buying something online. No vendor needs your social security number or birth date.
- Don’t use your debit card when buying online. Use your credit card. It comes with fraud protection. Also, criminals can do more damage with a debit card because it draws directly from your bank account.
- And only use one credit card for online shopping. This makes it easier to monitor your purchases. (Gift cards are another safe buying option.)
- Never—I repeat, never—send your account numbers or any other personal information via email. Email is not secure.
- Keep records when you shop online. Either save or print out receipts.
- Keep your security software and web browsers up to date to protect against viruses, malware and other online threats.
- Have good passwords—long passwords with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. This is good advice for email accounts too.
- Make sure you’re using a secure Wi-Fi connection/network whenever money is changing hands.
These tips come courtesy of Mary Pelton’s monthly Computers & Cookies series. In December, she’ll be offering tips for those who are looking to buy a computer or tablet—either for themselves or as a gift.
The talks are free and open to everyone. You can register for them on Mentor Library’s website.