The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.
As one Better Business Bureau executive puts it, “Identity theft can happen to you whether you’re shopping online or shopping at the mall.” That said, it is possible to take measures to ensure that you have the best possible protection against scammers out to steal your identity when you are making purchases over the internet.
Scammers are getting savvier each day, and are always developing new tricks by which to coax sensitive, personal, financial information out of the people they target. These online schemes range from rudimentary to sophisticated, and as long as online shoppers are aware of what to look out for, they can purchases goods and services from the internet without much worry.
Trusted transactions only.
Firstly, only buy things from trustworthy websites. If you have any questions or qualms about a specific retailer’s site, visit www.bbb.org to find out additional information about the merchant.
Make sure your computer is up to date with the most recent software updates installed, particularly a secure firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and spam filters. A computer running the proper protection programs is your first line of defense against hackers.
Fiercely guard your personal information.
Be sure that your online transaction is secure.
Only ever type your personal information into a website that is secure and encrypted. Look at the address box to see if there in an “s” after the “http” as well as looking at the lower-right hand corner of the site for a lock symbol. Make sure that both are present before you provide any payment information.
Beware of phishing.
Business that are legitimate do not issue emails claiming there are problems with an account or an order and request verification of the buyer’s financial information. Should you ever find yourself to be the recipient of this sort of email, call the telephone number on the website to confirm that there really was a problem with the processing of the transaction before you provide any additional information.
You should always pay by credit card when shopping online because a credit card offers you the greatest buyer protections. Federal law mandates that you can dispute all charges if you do not receive the item you ordered. If unauthorized charges show up on your account, you also have the right to dispute those charges. Many credit card issuers have what is called a zero liability policy which means that you will not be held responsible for fraudulent charges made on your account.
Once you have purchased something over the internet, make sure you keep all the documentation pertaining to your order. Make sure that you look over your credit card statements often – don’t wait to only look at the paper statements you receive in the mail. Log on to your credit card account via the computer around once a week to survey the activity posted and be sure to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.