…and Other Mondays
You may have been standing in the sub-freezing temperatures, or crowded around a sale table desperately searching for that ‘extra large’ among a sea of ‘mediums’ or even sadly lamenting the new dent in your car door from that rude shopper slamming his shopping cart into your door, but cry no more; it is practically Cyber Monday, and you can be safely tucked behind a computer and ‘shop until you drop.’
Online shopping as jumped significantly and the Mondays before Christmas seem to be the busiest, so whether you tap the keys from your laptop at work, at school, at Starbucks or at home, read on for some valuable tips aimed at keeping your identity and your money safe during this hectic holiday season.
1. Security is of prime importance when shopping online. Check the web page’s url. Over a secure connection, the address begins with “https” … note the “s” at the end and look for the lock icon usually at the bottom right of the page and click on it. Both of these will tell you the page and purchase are secured. If is important to be aware that the hottest gifts of the season for instance, the video game, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 can be used a a target to deliberately scam people to get your personal information. Use tried and true retailers, and use common sense. Look for the Better Business Bureau listing, and if the offer seems too good to be true, more than likely it is a scam.
2. Always use a credit card on something that will be delivered at a later date. If you don’t get what you ordered, federal law allows you to contest the purchases. Also, if someone steals your credit card number and uses it, most times you are not responsible of the purchases as opposed to using a debit card. Use only one credit card of your online purchases. Unless you are sure of the address, do not send personal information via email. Identity thieves can make up emails that look like secure sites. Some banks are now offering a one-time use credit card for online shopping. Check with your bank for availability.
3. Use multiple passwords when shopping online, and use the most up to date web browsers available. Do not use birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, or children’s names as passwords. Be careful of “side jacking” which are hackers who break into wireless connections to steal credit card numbers on a particular shopping site. The most popular targets are public hot spots. Wireless network users should take advantage of security features built into wireless routers. At home have a firewall so hackers can not get in, and always install a comprehensive security package. If you suspect any online scams, use www.fraud.org and report suspicious sites, sellers or suspected scams.
4. Charity phishing scams are popular now as the holidays approach, and scammers send our fake emails requesting donations to what seem to be legitimate charities. Unfortunately, some are linked to phony websites and simply take your money. Always verify the websites of any charity you consider donating to before giving out credit card information.
5. Merchant coupons can save you a lot of money, but the coupon codes are not always easily found. Go to bargain hunting sites and search by topic and category. Also note that rebate offers may sometimes be buried in the site. Some retailers provide a rebate page so do a search for rebates. Make sure you check delivery schedules to be sure your order arrives before Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, etc. You can go to www.bizrate.com to check consumer ratings.
6. Web retailers are not required by law to maintain the privacy of the people who order from their sites. Your information can be used for marketing, or your information can be sold. Check privacy policies before using any online retail establishment so your name does not get sold for spam.