Shopping Safely Online

Identity Protection
Shopping Safely Online

Tips for Safe Online Shopping

In today's digital age, online shopping has become an integral part of our lives. The ease and accessibility it offers have revolutionized how we purchase goods and services. However, amidst this convenience, it is crucial to prioritize the safety and security of our online shopping experiences. Otherwise, the time and energy you save by shopping online could be lost if you fall victim to identity theft due to a misstep in your online shopping habits.

1. Look for trusted websites.
One of the most essential tips is to stick to trusted and secure websites. By doing so, you can have peace of mind knowing that your financial transactions and personal data are in safe hands. If you have not heard of a particular shopping site, look for information about it through a search engine to help you figure out whether it has a good or bad reputation.

Then, rather than following a link from an email or social media post, go directly to the website where you want to make the purchase. Some sophisticated hackers make dummy websites that look like the real ones but will steal the information you enter.

2. Avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots.

The convenience of public Wi-Fi hotspots is undeniable. However, it is crucial to be aware of the safety risks associated with connecting to these networks. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are notorious for their vulnerability to hacking and data breaches, putting your personal information at risk. So, shop online from home or another secure network, not from public Wi-Fi hotspots. Hackers can easily intercept the data transmitted over these unsecured networks, gaining access to sensitive information such as passwords, credit card details, and personal files. This can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and even reputation damage.

3. Shop on secure websites.

One way to ensure the safety of your personal information is by looking for the padlock icon and "https" in the URL. The padlock icon signifies that the website you are visiting has taken measures to protect your data. It indicates that the website has an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate, establishing an encrypted connection between your browser and the website's server. This encryption helps prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card details. So, look for https:// at the beginning of the web address before you enter any personal information on a shopping site, especially your banking or credit card information.

4. Use a credit card when shopping online.

Use a credit card for the most security on your purchases. Most major credit cards will refund your money if your item never arrived and the company you purchased it from is not cooperating to make it right. Also, they offer fraud protection for months after making a fraudulent purchase, which can make it easier for you to recover your losses if your credit card number somehow falls into the wrong hands.

5. Only fill out the required information.

Be cautious of websites or sellers that ask for additional sensitive data that is not relevant to the transaction. Only fill out the required information when you are making a purchase, such as your name, billing address, shipping address, and credit card information. You should not need to enter your birthday or Social Security number, and if these pieces of information fall into the wrong hands, they make it easy for identity thieves to pose as you.

6. Generate unique passwords for the websites you shop on.

With the increasing number of cyber threats, it is crucial to prioritize the security of your online accounts. One effective way to enhance website security is by generating unique passwords for each website you shop on. Generate a different password for each online shopping website where you have an account. Many major companies, including Home Depot, Target, LivingSocial, and eBay, have reported major data breaches in recent years. If your password at a hacked website is the same as the one you use at a different online shopping site, the hackers could use this information to make fraudulent purchases at many websites before you realized what was happening.

7. Look at the website's return and refund policies.

Having transparent and customer-friendly return and refund policies is crucial. You want to feel confident in your purchase, knowing you can return or get a refund if needed. Check out the website's return and refund policies before you make your purchase. In some cases, you may have to pay for return shipping or have a restocking fee deducted from your refund. Between the two of these, you might not get any money back at all if you choose to return the item.

8. Read reviews and check seller ratings before making a purchase.

Before you click that "buy" button, take a moment to research and gather information from e-commerce reviews and ratings platforms. It's an essential step in ensuring your online shopping experience is smooth and hassle-free. By taking the time to read reviews, you can gain valuable insights into the experiences of other customers. In addition to reviews, checking seller ratings is another crucial step in ensuring a positive shopping experience. Platforms often assign ratings based on delivery speed, product quality, and customer service. By choosing sellers with high ratings, you can increase your chances of receiving a satisfactory product and excellent customer support.

Published November 2023

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Information presented in the Financial Advice website is provided for educational purposes only and is not related to Ameris Bank's actual products or services. Ameris Bank makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness or specific suitability of any information presented. Information provided should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. Ameris Bank recommends you consult a professional for any specific guidance you are seeking.