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Top Story

Be safe when shopping online

No matter whether you are shopping for Christmas, a birthday present or a little something for yourself, you need to safe when making transactions online. Here are some tips to keep in mind when surfing for that great item online:

Check the URL: When you get to the part of the transaction process where you enter credit card or debit card info, check to make sure the URL states "https://" instead of the regular "http://". The "https" indicates a secure page where the confidential info you enter is encrypted so that only the intended party can read it and process your order.

See what the policies are: Different companies - and especially different countries - have varying policies for returns, refunds, deliveries, payment, guarantees and other matters.

Read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy: It is always good to see just what you are entering into by using a website or ordering a product via that site. Pay particular attention to how the website treats your personal, identifying information. It could fall into the wrong hands or be used to spam you with offerings from companies that bought your info from the site.

Protect your password and username: Many sites ask you to set up an account with them in order to purchase. It is a good idea to use unique passwords for different sites, bank account, social networking and other online uses. In many cases, your username is your email address. To avoid having your work or regular personal email address chockfull of transaction receipts and special offers, you might consider creating an email account just for online transactions.

Consider another card: Some online shoppers use a credit card they have specifically obtained for web purchases. This means if you find that your info has been stolen and your card is being used by someone else, you can just cancel it. You would still have your other(s) for offline transactions.

Look at your credit card statement: Check your monthly statement to make sure that there are no unauthorized purchases. Cyberthieves like to test cards with small amounts and then, once they know it works, try for more money.

Factor in shipping: An item might look like a great deal online, but remember that it has to get to you. In some cases, shipping can make items more expensive than purchasing at your local store. As well, if it needs to be there by a certain date, make sure that is doable.

Check the rep: While some small online businesses are great, it often is advisable to deal with well-known companies. Look for badges from the Better Business Bureau and other similar organizations. It is also a good idea to check online reviews. However, you might have to decide which reviews are valid complaints and which are not.

Keep records: Always keep a paper or digital copy of your transaction, including product description and price.

Work it out: If there is a problem with your transaction, try to work it out first with the company. If you do get any satisfaction this way, try contacting the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission or your state Attorney General (if in the United States) or other similar organizations.

Protect your PC: It is important to make sure that keyloggers and other malware are not on your PC harvesting the confidential info you enter while shopping online. Use a security solution like XoftSpySE Anti-Spyware to protect your computer.

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