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Ask the Expert

“I’m getting a head start on holiday shopping. How can I stay safe while shopping online?”

 

Shopping locally is best if you can, but if you do shop online, only do business with companies you know. At the very least, check the security of any retailer very closely.

For starters, look for “https” at the beginning of the URL, not just “http.” You can also read reviews to see if there have been any complaints. Then navigate to the company’s security policy and actually read it. If it doesn’t reassure you, move on to another site.

Only shop using a secure connection.
Don’t do business online while you’re on Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or other public place. It’s too easy for hackers to intercept your transaction and get your financial information.

Use credit, not debit.
Most credit cards offer better protection and aren’t linked to a bank
account. You may also want to consider using a third-party payment option such as PayPal.

Use strong passwords.
If you do find a new retailer you want to do business with, be sure to use a strong, unique password when creating an account. Better yet, complete the transaction as a “guest” and don’t agree to have the site save your information.

Beware of fake shopping apps.
They can steal your financial information or install malware on your
device. They may look like the real thing in your app store, but check to see how long they’ve been around. If there aren’t many reviews yet, that’s a bad sign. Avoid the issue entirely by finding a link to the
app on the retailer’s website.

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