Are you thinking of doing your Christmas shopping online this year but are nervous about identity theft and fraud? Do you wish there was a way to increase your chances of not falling victim to a scam and to be safe while shopping online? Not to fear, there are many ways that you can dramatically reduce your chances of receiving negative repercussions as a result of shopping online. Simply follow these top ten tips for safe online Christmas shopping.
1.A big name means better protection — Big name stores are more likely to have safe online shopping sites not only because of their additional financial resources but also because they put their reputation on the line when they do business online. This is not to say that all smaller businesses are scams, of course that isn’t the case. But you should be willing to turn down an offer that is too far from the price of the big name stores. This is a common scam to get personal information from you.
2.Shop with members of the Better Business Bureau Online — Companies who choose to register with the Better Business Bureau Online are serious about doing quality and safe business and will more than likely be legitimate.
3.Do your homework on sites that you have suspicions about — If you are unsure about a particular site, research it out. Contact the site operators by phone or check to see if they have a physical location by sending a letter. If contact information is not offered in both the form of a telephone number and a physical location, shop somewhere else.
4.Check for a return policy — With online shopping it is not uncommon to be unhappy with something that you have purchased because things aren’t always what they seem. Before making a purchase check to see what kind of return policy is in place and be willing to accept disappointment if you choose to purchase a product without a guarantee or return policy.
5.Do not shop on shared computers — When you shop on a shared computer your financial information can easily be accessed by the next person who happens to use that computer.
6.Use credit not debit — According to the experts, credit cards are the safest method of payment for online purchases. With a credit card you share responsibility of payment with the credit company. If someone tries to scam you they are also trying to scam the credit card company so you can bet that they are going to be on your side in the case of a dispute. Additionally, The Federal Trade Commission states that federal law limits your liability to $50 if your credit card is used fraudulently. But don’t claim fraud just to get out of a stupid decision, because by doing so you could be committing fraud.
7.Look into a online account number service or a virtual account number — Some credit card companies offer highly secure credit card numbers specifically for Internet purchases. These numbers are in no way connected to your main credit accounts.
8.Use smart passwords — Smart or secure passwords are passwords that are unlikely to be guessed. You password should be case sensitive and should including a series of both letters and numbers.
9.Use your better judgment — If you are unsure about a site, it is better to avoid it completely than to take chances. Remember that if something seems too good to be true it probably is. A legitimate online vendor will never ask you to send personal or financial information via e-mail or instant message.
10.Knowledge is power — Experts agree that shopping online is far more secure than shopping in a regular store because there are fewer people who are given access to your information when you shop online. Smart online shoppers know that when they research companies out before making purchases and check for signs of fraud, that they are relatively safe in the purchases that they make.