10 Tips for Online Shopping

If the holidays aren’t busy enough all on there own, there is sometimes the looming stress and fears of online shopping, identity theft and the like; a mess most of us wouldn’t wish on our…least favorite cousin?

So, here are a few tips to help you reduce your online shopping risks a wee bit and hopefully bring back a little personal peace for the season.

Top 10 Online Risk Reduction Steps for Online Shopping:

1. Secure It. Latest security update? Check. anti-virus and anti-spyware software running and updated? Check. Got a firewall installed? Check. Great! Now on to #2.

2. Upgrade browser. Pretty simple. Just do it or tap your nearest 12 year old to help you out.

3. Ignore pop-up messages. Best if you set your browser to block them, but you’ll still see them once in a while. Never, ever, ever, open one. Done.

4. Secure your transactions. Look for the “lock” icon on your browser’s status bar and always be sure that “https” shows up in the web address bar. “S” = “secure” so it means the site has at least some level of encryption.

5. Just don’t send email sensitive data. No credit card numbers, SSNs, account numbers, passwords, etc. If you wouldn’t wear it on your shirt – don’t put it in an email.

6. Do not make online purchases from any public computer or public wireless. Public means open and available – kinda like the tech version of changing clothes in your front yard.

7. Make payments securely. This means to minimize your personal risk. At least for now, credit cards are the safer bet. Avoid using a debit card for online purchases. If an online criminal gets your debit card data, they can wipe you flat. You’re usually pretty well covered under a credit card. Usually.

8. Get tricky – use temporary account authorizations. Some credit card companies will actually give you a temporary number that links up. These are time limited and guess what? – Arguably one of the safest ways to shop online right now.

9. Be Choosey. Select the merchants you shop from with a little care. Use ones you know well and if you must venture out – look up their address and phone online. You can also get questions and concerns addressed via the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.

10. LAST ONE! Simple to do and most folks just don’t realize the headache it’ll save you – keep a record of your purchases. Always save all the emails and online receipts, but a brief email to self with product descriptions, date/time bought, payment type you used, etc. can really be helpful in event of a problem.

Not an exhaustive list and by no means complete. But I hope it helps you take a few steps towards protecting yourself and reducing a bit of stress. After all, shopping isn’t what this season is really about anyway – so it’s good to be able to put your time and focus on the people and things that really do matter.

Happy Holidays!