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Top Online Shopping Safety Tips for the Holidays

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The holiday shopping season is upon us, which makes this a great time to brush up on some simple ways to make sure you’re safe when shopping online.


Cincinnati Insurance recently put together a great list of helpful tips:


•  Protect your computer by installing the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall security.


•  Shop on trustworthy sites, whether you’re using a computer or a phone. Check for the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction.


•  Take the time to read the retailer’s online privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If one isn’t posted, it may be a red flag that your personal information may be sold or used without your permission.


•  Confirm your online purchase is secure – Before paying, look in the address box for an “s” in the https:// (not just http://), and check your browser window for the “lock” icon. If in doubt, right click anywhere on the web page and select “properties.” This will let you see the URL and whether it’s encrypted.


•  Pay for your online purchases with a credit card, not a debit card. Federal law allows you to dispute unauthorized charges.


•  If PayPal is an option for the sites you shop on, use it. It protects you from having to enter your credit card number and other payment information on the shopping site.


•  Keep documentation of your online purchase. Save the confirmation page, confirmation number or confirmation email.


•  Don’t wait for credit card statements to come in the mail. Check your credit card statements online regularly. If something seems suspicious, call the credit card company.


•  Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, you can cancel and demand a refund. There is no three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, the company’s policies determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.


•  Beware of unsolicited (spam) emails. Don’t respond, and don’t click on any links within an unsolicited email.


•  Compare the link in the email with the URL (website address) to which you are directed and determine if they match and lead you to a legitimate website.


•  Log directly onto a retailer’s website for the business identified in the email, instead of following the link or calling a phone number in an unsolicited email. If the email appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer or other company you deal with, your statements and correspondence may provide proper contact information.


•  Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask you to provide or confirm personal or financial information.


See “Online shopping: Tips to reduce risk.”


For even more tips and information, check out this video: “BBB News: Holiday Shopping Safety Tips.”


See also the FBI’s information on internet fraud.


Contact Saginaw Bay Underwriters for ways we can help protect you from identity theft and other online risks.




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