Online Shopping Safety Tips — October 2011, reviewed January 2013
Shopping online can be a great way to save dollars and time for many items. However, you do need to protect your identity and private information. To avoid hassles in online shopping, follow these tips.
- Get the details by knowing who you’re dealing with, what you’re buying, and what it will cost. Check out the terms of the deal, like refund policies and delivery dates. Anyone can set up a business online under almost any name. If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you are browsing, don’t reply or follow the link. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information that way.
- Pay by credit card. If you pay by credit card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you can dispute charges and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them. If your credit card gets used without your permission, your liability is generally limited to $50 in charges. Your credit card may have other guarantees that protect you, too.
- And keep records. Print or save records of your online transactions. Check your credit card billing statements to make sure charges that you don’t recognize don’t show up. It’s also suggested that for online transactions you only use one credit card.
- Always remember — never share financial information, like a social security number, credit card or checking account number in an email. If you begin a transaction for which you need to give personal information, look for and ‘s’ being added after the http in the URL. The ‘s’ means secure.
These are just a few basic online shopping tips to safeguard your identity. More can be learned at a new Federal Trade Commission website with address: http://OnGuardOnline.gov .