Online Shopping

Online shopping is fast, easy, and convenient, but it's important to be cautious about making a purchase over the Internet. Identity thieves who steal your personal information can rack up thousands of dollars in unauthorized purchases. A few simple safety precautions can help you enjoy online shopping without becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud.

You should only shop at secure web sites that use encryption to scramble your credit card number and other personal information. Encryption prevents hackers from obtaining your personal data. To tell if an online shopping web site uses encryption technology, look for a closed padlock symbol at the bottom of your browser window.

It's safest to do your online shopping with businesses you already know and trust. If you're considering making a purchase from an unfamiliar company, it's a good idea to do some research before placing your order. A reputable business will list a physical business address and at least one phone number on their web site. It's a good idea to always do business with companies located in the United States, since you'll be protected by federal consumer laws if there is a problem with your purchase.

The best way to pay for your online shopping purchases is with a credit card. Using checks or debit cards as payment methods can expose your bank account information to thieves. Credit card payments offer you legal protection if there is a problem with your purchase. However, it's a good idea to reserve one credit for online shopping only; if something goes wrong it will be easier to trace the source of any fraudulent charges.

Many online shopping web sites require their customers to log-in before making a purchase. Choose a secure password that includes both letters and numbers. Don't use commonly known information such as your birthrate, mother's maiden name, or portions of your driver's license or Social Security number to create passwords for online shopping web sites. Keep your password in a safe place and don't use the same password for another online shopping web site.