Over 50% of all shopping happens online. That’s probably not too shocking for most of us, but it does drive home the fact that – regardless of how tech-savvy we think we are – ’tis the season to keep our antennas up for those looking to swindle us online.
Check out these 4 tips to help you stay safe online this holiday season.
1. Check for a physical address.
The Better Business Bureau warns that you should never make a purchase from a website that does not provide a highly-visible physical address and working phone number. Shipping and return policies should be easy to find as well. Lastly, keep a close eye on where a product may be shipping from. When you’re in a last-minute jam, it’s unlikely a product shipping from someplace like China or Ukraine is going to arrive early.
2. Never use your debit card, only credit.
It’s important to only use a credit card online. If you’re debt conscious, load up a pre-paid card to make your online purchases. There aren’t many ways to recoup your money if you get scammed using your debit card, but the Fair Credit Billing Act gives you federal rights to refute charges from bad actors when it comes to credit cards.
3. You can get SPAM over text, too.
You probably know a bit about Phishing ploys over email – when you get an email that looks like it’s from a legitimate source, but then when you click on a link they steal your personal information – but be aware that the same can happen over text. If you get an intriguing offer over text, think first if you gave the retailer permission to text you and then, secondly, open a browser and go to their website to confirm the sale is a real thing.
4. Always sign out as a guest.
If you’re using a site that isn’t as popular as something like Amazon.com or Nike.com, then be sure to complete your purchase as a guest. They will probably ask – or almost insist – that you create an account with them, but don’t. This ensures that you’re not giving away more personal information than you need to, just in case the site you’re using is indeed a fraud of some kind.
Keep these 4 tips in mind, as well as a bit of a skeptical eye on things when you’re finishing up your holiday shopping this year. The fraud department at your bank will thank you for it.