With the holiday shopping season upon us, now is a good time to brush up on your online shopping safety. Statistics show that online shopping is on the rise and e-commerce sales are predicted to increase by 11 percent this year. Regardless of how much or how little online shopping you've done, it's always a good idea to review best practices for online security.
Here are five important tips to help ensure that you have a safe and secure online shopping experience:
1. Check for "the lock." Every secure website features a "lock" icon on the status bar to communicate its status. If you don't see the lock, don't enter your credit card or banking information. Also, all secure payment platforms begin with "https," not "http." Double-check that, as well, before you provide any personal information being requested.
2. Shop with trusted retailers and familiar websites. Maintaining a safe and secure online shopping environment is a vital concern for retailers, and recognizable companies go to a great deal of effort and expense to ensure their e-commerce platforms are safe and secure. If you stick to well-known retailers or online stores you've shopped with before, you minimize your exposure and, along with it, your risk.
3. Choose credit over debit. Credit card companies offer their customers comprehensive fraud prevention and protection programs, which may not be duplicated when you pay by debit card. For this reason, it's generally a better idea to use your credit card to complete online purchases.
4. Watch your bills and statements. Don't wait until the end of the month to review your credit card bills and bank statements. Check regularly as you shop to make sure that no unauthorized activity is taking place. If you notice anything questionable or suspicious, contact your bank or credit card company right away.
5. Order online, pay in store. If you're shopping on the website of a major retailer that has a physical location nearby, you may be able to reserve your purchase on the website, then pick it up and pay for it at the store with cash or check. This strategy eliminates online payment risk and is catching on with retailers and consumers alike who appreciate the additional payment choices that paying in store provides.
In addition to these tips, be sure you're using an up-to-date web browser, and clear your temporary Internet files and memory cache immediately after completing your purchase. These strategies make it much more difficult for cyber criminals to access your personal information.
E-commerce security is a very important consideration for businesses, consumers and payment providers. For additional information on online security, please see this blog or visit www.staysafeonline.org. Then get online and shop!