Shopping online can be fun and convenient, and it can even save you a lot of money if you take advantage of sales and other promotions. But it’s also important to be cautious when you shop online so that you don’t compromise your finances. After all, shopping online often means inputting very important information, such as credit card and/or bank account information. If you’re an online shopper, you’ll want to keep the following tips in mind:
Don’t use public computers
Even if you’re on a secured connection and using password-protected Wi-Fi that’s available to the public (for instance, at the library or at school), use your own laptop or tablet. Avoid using public computers for online shopping, or any activity that involves inputting financial information. You never know what could be on that computer or who could be using it later on; for example, it could have spyware or key-logging software. Don’t chance it and just use your own device.
Shop trusted retailers
Anyone with access to the Internet can set up an online shop, so don’t be too quick to place orders (and provide credit card information) on websites you’ve never heard of before. If it’s not a trusted and well-known retailer, do some research first to make sure they are safe to order from. See if they are with the BBB and what their rating is, and check other places for consumer reviews. Look up their social media pages (if they have any) to see what kind of customer feedback they’re receiving; even a quick search on the web should bring up some more detailed information. If what you’re finding is mostly negative, or you can’t find anything at all, consider taking your business elsewhere.
Set banking alerts
Whether you use your debit card or credit card to shop online, ask to sign up for alerts that will notify you every time a purchase has been made, if you haven’t done so already. This could be done via email or app, for instance, and will simply let you know every time a transaction has gone through. If you notice something that you know you didn’t buy, or you see an amount come up for a website you ordered from, but the amount is way off—contact the bank immediately. If your credit card information is ever compromised from shopping online, you’ll know right away because you’ll see the first fraudulent charge that goes through. Putting a stop to it from the beginning can save you a lot of time, energy, and money.
Password-protect your smartphone and laptop
Website and apps these days make online shopping easier than ever. To simplify the ordering process, many companies now offer “one click” ordering for customers who store their credit card information, and consumers can now even pay for a lot of purchases (both online and offline) just by simply using their smartphones—no more manually inserting credit card information. If you have this type of information stored on your phone and laptop, it’s extremely important that you password-protect your devices and with a very strong password. This way, you can ensure your financial information isn’t compromised if your phone or computer are ever lost, stolen, or broken into.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.