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Shop Safely Online with These Tips

eCommerce has certainly paved the way towards a faster and more convenient shopping experience. Thanks to online merchants, consumers can purchase the items that they need from the comfort of their own home. Most commonly used for books, electronics, and gift items, online shopping allows people to save a ton of time, effort, and in some cases, money.

However, as revolutionary as it is, online shopping does have its risks. Fraud, phishing, and bogus deals, are rampant on the web. And while most online merchants to do their best to provide a safe shopping experience for users, consumers themselves also need to take certain precautionary measures to ensure that nothing shady takes place.

Below are few tips that can help you stay safe online. These things may take a little more time and effort online, but they're worth it, considering that they can save you a lot of money and stress in the long run.

Shop at reputable websites

Whenever possible, only purchase items from big, reputable merchants. Sites such as Amazon and Zappos for instance, have a proven track record of providing a safe and secure shopping experience. You can also try the official websites of certain retailers and department stores. That way, you can be positive that you're doing business with authorized websites.

Be suspicious of sites asking too much information

It's normal for shopping websites to need your address and credit card number to complete the transaction. Asking for your birthday, social security number however, is way too much. Be wary of websites asking for too many personal details as they could be attempting to get enough intel on you to steal your identity.

Only shop using HTTPS

Whenever you're about to enter your personal information, always check your browser's address bar to see if you're browsing the page using HTTPS instead of just HTTP.

HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, indicates that you are in a "secure session" and that the information you are sending is protected. HTTPS must always be used whenever you're entering sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers.

Monitor your statements

If you do become a victim of fraud or identity theft, it's best to catch it as early as possible. Take advantage of the convenience of online banking to monitor your account activity. If you see any transactions that you don't recognize, call your bank immediately to report them.

Shop using computers you trust

Don't do any online shopping when you're using a public Internet connection (i.e. WiFi in coffee shops, libraries, airports, etc). Public WiFi is obviously less secure and could be more susceptible to prying eyes and hackers. Always be on the safe side when you're shopping online and only do it when you're using your trusty and secure Internet connection at home.

Resources

For more safety information and advice on shopping online, please check out the following websites:

StaySafeOnline.org - A page that details the steps that you can take to protect yourself while shopping online.

Citibank - Safe Online Shopping - Citibank's resource page about safe Internet shopping and online passwords.

ProtectMyID.com - Online shopping tips from Protect Experian and ProtectMyID.com

Microsoft's Saftey & Security Center - Online shopping safety tips from Microsoft.

The University of Texas at Austin - An article by the Univeristy of Texas about safe Internet shopping.

Georgetown Univeristy - Univeristy Information Security Office - A an article containing tips and resources pertaining to safe online shopping during the holidays.

RIT Information Security - An informative page by the Rochester Institute of Technology about secure online shopping and banking.

Northern Arizona Univerisity - Information Technology Services - Twelve Tips To Protect Yoursefl from Online Scams

Federal Trade Commission - Tips from the FTC to help consumers shop safely online.

OnGuardOnline.gov - An informative page offering advice for hassle-free and safe online shopping.

AARP.org - An article by AARP on how to shop safely online.

Indiana Attorney General - Safe online shopping tips by the Attorney General of Indiana.

Image credit: Don Hankins on Flickr

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