Guide to Shopping Online Safely
by: John Mussi
Shopping on the Internet has now become commonplace. The Internet is an exciting tool that puts vast information at your fingertips. With a click of a mouse, it lets you buy an airline ticket, book a hotel, send flowers to a friend, purchase your favourite item, bank and invest online.
Shopping online offers lots of benefits that you won’t find shopping in a store or by mail. The Internet is always open – seven days a week, 24 hours a day – and bargains can be numerous online. Most consumers use credit or debit cards to pay for online purchases.
Online Payment options:
Most online shoppers use credit cards to pay for their online purchases. But debit cards - which authorize merchants to debit your bank account electronically - are increasing in use. To complete a debit card transaction, you may have to use a personal identification number (PIN), some form of a signature or other identification, or a combination of these identifiers. Some cards have both credit and debit features: You select the payment option at the point-of-sale. But remember, although a debit card may look like a credit card, the money for debit purchases is transferred almost immediately from your bank account to the merchant's account. In addition, your liability limits for a lost or stolen debit card and unauthorized use are different from your liability if your credit card is lost, stolen or used without your authorization.
Shopping on the Internet is no less safe than shopping in a store or by mail. Keep the following tips in mind to help ensure that your online shopping experience is a safe one.
•Use a secure browser - software that encrypts or scrambles the purchase information you send over the Internet - to help guard the security of your information as it is transmitted to a website. When submitting your purchase information, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar, and the phrase "https" in the URL address for a website, to be sure your information is secure during transmission.
•Read and understand the refund and shipping policies of a website you visit, before you make your purchase. Look closely at disclosures about the website's refund and shipping policies. Again, search through the website for these disclosures.
•Keep your personal information private. Don't disclose your personal information - your address, telephone number, bank account number or e-mail address - unless you know who's collecting the information, why they're collecting it and how they'll use it.
•Give payment information only to businesses you know and trust, and only when and where it is appropriate - like an order form. Never give your password to anyone online, even your Internet service provider.
•Keep records of your online transactions and check your e-mail for contacts by merchants with whom you're doing business. Merchants may send you important information about your purchases.
•Review your monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases promptly and thoroughly. Notify your credit or debit card issuer immediately if your credit or debit card is lost or stolen, or if you suspect someone is using your accounts without your permission.