Tips To Help You Protect Your Identity When You Shop Online

Posted on November 19, 2012

We’re only a few short days away from Thanksgiving, or as some people might consider it, Black Friday Eve.  And true, there are no doubt going to be millions of people heading out to the malls and the department stores to take advantage of great deals.  But almost as many people are going to opt to stay home and shop online.  This is definitely a convenient way to get your Christmas presents, but if you’re not careful, it might not be the safest.  The United States government is thus providing tips so that online shoppers can keep themselves safe from financial fraud and identity theft.

When you shop online, you typically have two purchasing options:  debit card or credit card.  You should almost always opt for the latter.  Credit cards are the safer option because of the protections in place that are meant to heed unauthorized purchases off at the pass.  On debit cards, you might be stuck with a large portion of the bill if your information has been stolen, but with credit cards, the most you might be on the line for is a relatively scant $50.

Only shop at those stores that you know you can trust.  Some scammers will wait until the holidays to launch “stores” with deals that sound too good to be true.  To protect yourself, do your research.  If the online store you’re about to buy from isn’t a known entity, then try to find some reviews and customer feedback on an unbiased online outlet.  Also double-check the return policy for something that might look suspicious, and make sure that the price you’re about to pay doesn’t have some hidden charges you weren’t aware of.  And opt to purchase in the United States so that, should a dispute arise, you know that the seller is subject to our country’s laws and regulations.

You also need to protect your identity at all costs.  One signifier that a site is secure is the https designation at the beginning of a web address.  A site with such a handle will be encrypted and should be capable of protecting your information.  You should also only use a network that you’re positive is secure.  Some public networks might not offer the requisite protection, and by entering in billing information on such a network, you might put yourself at risk.  If you do have to use a public network, only do so if it requires a password.

Don’t respond to emails with supposed “offers” from disreputable sites, or sites that look like they might be legitimate but just seem a bit off.  Oftentimes, such offers will require you to enter personal information in exchange for the deal, and that information can then be stolen.  Similarly, avoiding putting such identifiers in an email, especially when it comes to your Social Security Number.

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