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Online Shopping Best Practices to Protect Yourself Against Scams

online shopping

The convenience and vast array of products offered by online shopping have made it a key part of our lives. Who doesn't love finding that perfect pair of jeans or a dress you've been searching for without walking around the mall for hours? However, this ease of access also presents opportunities for scammers to exploit unsuspecting consumers. 

By taking the necessary precautions and staying informed, you can enjoy the convenience of online shopping without falling prey to scams or fraud. Protecting your personal and financial information should always be a top priority, and by following these guidelines, you can shop with confidence and peace of mind.

What are best practices to follow when online shopping?

Shop from Reputable Retailers: Prioritize known and established online stores with a proven reputation for reliability. Avoid unfamiliar websites or those with poor reviews or ratings. Smaller companies that have no reviews or reputation could scam you out of money and you may never receive the items you order. There are tons of reliable company to shop from, so it’s best to stick to those website.

Verify Website Security: Ensure the website is secure by checking for the "https" prefix and a lock icon in the address bar. These indicators signify that the site encrypts your information during transmission. If it is not a secure website, it will say “not secure” and you should not give them any of your banking information.

Beware of Unsolicited Emails or Messages: Exercise caution when clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown senders. These may contain malware designed to steal your personal information. With online shopping, you are inputting your banking information into a website, so you should be extra cautious about the links or websites you click on.

Protect Your Payment Information: There are several ways to protect your payment information online. One is by not saving any card information in your browser history. Although this is convenient, it could give scammers a chance to collect personal banking information. You can also opt to use a credit card instead of a debit card for online purchases. Credit cards can offer better protection against fraudulent transactions compared to debit cards. Whether you are using a credit or debit card, make sure your mobile banking has a card control feature so you can turn your card on or off with ease in case you run into a fraudulent situation.

Regularly Review Account Statements: Monitor your credit card and bank statements regularly for any unauthorized charges or transactions. This is always a good habit to be in to avoid all kinds of fraud, but you should monitor your accounts if you frequently shop online so that you can make sure you have not been charged for something you didn’t order.

Be Cautious of Deals that Seem Too Good to Be True: Exercise skepticism when encountering deals that appear too good to be true. Scammers often use unrealistic offers to lure unsuspecting customers to fake online shopping websites. Although we’d like to believe every deal is legit, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Shop on Secure Networks: Avoid making online purchases on public Wi-Fi networks, as these may be less secure and vulnerable to interception. These public Wi-Fi networks can store your information and that could give them access to your banking information.

Keep Software Updated: Maintain up-to-date operating systems, web browsers, and antivirus software to protect against known vulnerabilities. This is especially crucial if you are online shopping because you’re entering payment information that could be stolen from your data on your browser.

Is it Safe to Use My Card Information When Purchasing Online?

Using your card information for online purchases can be safe if you take precautions and follow best practices. Reputable online retailers implement secure encryption methods to safeguard your data during transmission. This means that your card information is encrypted and cannot be easily intercepted or accessed by hackers. The encryption process scrambles your data into a code that can only be deciphered by the recipient, ensuring that your personal and financial information remains secure.

In addition to encryption, credit cards offer better protection against fraud compared to debit cards. This is because credit cards have built-in fraud protection measures, such as the ability to dispute unauthorized charges and the option to set spending limits. If you notice any fraudulent activity on your credit card statement, you can easily report it to your credit card issuer, and they will investigate the matter on your behalf. In most cases, you will not be held responsible for any fraudulent charges made on your credit card.

On the other hand, debit cards are directly linked to your bank account, and any fraudulent activity can directly impact your finances. While many debit cards also offer fraud protection, the process of recovering lost funds can be more time-consuming and complicated compared to credit cards. It's always a good idea to check with your financial institution or card issuer to understand the specific fraud protection measures they offer for debit cards.

It's also wise to regularly monitor your credit card and bank statements for any unauthorized charges or suspicious activity. By reviewing your statements on a monthly basis, you can quickly identify and report any fraudulent transactions to your card issuer or bank. This proactive approach will help you address any potential issues before they escalate and minimize the impact on your finances.

How Do You Recognize Scams When Online Shopping?

Recognizing the red flags of scams is crucial in protecting yourself from online shopping fraud.

Suspicious pricing: This is one of the most common signs of a scam. If you come across unusually low prices or deals that seem too good to be true, it's best to proceed with caution. Scammers often lure unsuspecting customers with these enticing offers, only to steal their money or personal information.

Grammatical errors or poor website design: Legitimate retailers typically invest in professional website design and ensure that their content is free of grammatical errors. If you notice spelling mistakes, poor grammar, or a poorly designed website, it's a warning sign that the website may not be trustworthy.

High-pressure sales tactics: These are frequently used by scammers to create a sense of urgency and pressure customers into making hasty decisions. They may claim that the deal is only available for a limited time or that there are only a few items left in stock. It's important to remember that legitimate retailers do not employ such tactics. Take your time, do your research, and make an informed decision before making a purchase.

Requests for excessive personal information: Be cautious of any online retailers that request excessive personal information during the checkout process. Legitimate retailers only require essential information, such as your name, shipping address, and payment details. They will never ask for unnecessary personal information, such as your Social Security number or passwords. If a website asks for excessive personal details, it's a red flag that they may have malicious intentions.

By adhering to these best practices and recognizing the red flags of scams, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to online shopping fraud. Remember, staying informed and simply slowing down is your best defense against cybercriminals.


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Protect Your Online Habits with Leaders Credit Union

At Leaders, we care about your financial wellbeing, and we are here to protect your personal accounts. We have a vast array of options for you to choose from if you're wanting a credit or debit card, and our mobile app even has a card control feature. You can have access to check your account activity anytime, anywhere, so you can keep a close eye on those accounts to avoid fraud. 

We've created The Ultimate Fraud Prevention Kit that is a comprehensive guide that dives deep into everything you need to know to protect yourself from financial fraud.


Report Scams to the FTC

If you were scammed or think you saw a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.