Shopping online can be a great way to compare prices with ease, avoid the crowds and even find great deals. It can be done 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you never have to leave your home to do so. But you should take precautions, as you would when you shop in stores, to make sure your experience continues to be pleasant going forward. Let’s take a look at some important tips to consider when shopping online:
- Do not shop from a public Wi-Fi connection. Be sure that you only shop from a secure connection. Additionally, never use public computers to shop or check your accounts online.
- Do not give your financial information through a seller’s website, make sure you look for indicators that the site is secure (e.g., URL begins with “https, a lock logo on the URL, etc.).
- Do not email any financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting financial information, such as your credit card number, checking account number, or Social Security number.
- Know who you are dealing with online. Avoid wiring money to pay for an item if you do not know the seller.
- Know what it will cost and the terms of the deal. Read the “fine print” and make sure there is a return policy in case the item ordered doesn’t come to you as advertised. Many sites will offer tracking options so you can see exactly where your purchase is and provide an estimate of when it will arrive.
- Use a means of payment where you have some protection such as a credit card. If you pay by credit card, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you can dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them. If your credit card number has been compromised and someone is making unauthorized purchases with it, your liability is generally limited to the first $50 in charges.
- Keep records and check your accounts. Be diligent in reviewing your credit card and checking statements each month to be sure there are no unauthorized charges or issues.