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Home > Risks > Online Shopping

Things To Remember When Shopping Online

Make Sure to Use a Secure Browser.

Make sure your browser meets industry security standards. Features such as the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypt your personal information as it is sent over the internet. Most browsers are capable of SSL encryption and other security features.

There are two ways to determine if a website encrypts data before it is sent over the internet. The first is that the URL displayed in the address bar will begin with the abbreviation "https."  This stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Web pages that do not encrypt data only display "http," without the "s."

Secure web pages will also display a second indicator, which differs depending on the particular browser being used. In most browsers, a small lock will appear in the address bar.

Shop Only With Companies You Are Comfortable With.

Ask for paper documentation, such as a catalog or a brochure, if you are unfamiliar with an online merchant. This should help you become familiar with the vendor's services and policies. Never deal with an online merchant whose policies are not explicitly clarified.

Keep Your Password(s) Secret.

Never reveal passwords that you use online. 

Pay by Credit Card.

Using your credit card online ensures that you will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. This law provides consumers with the right to dispute charges made to their accounts. If unauthorized charges are made to your credit card, by law you are liable only for the first $50, and many companies don't require you to pay anything.

Keep Records.

Keep a record of confirmation numbers and purchase orders. Print them out and keep personal copies. Online orders are covered by the Federal Mail/Telephone Order Merchandise Rule. This rule states that merchandise ordered online must be delivered within 30 days unless otherwise noted. Your records will be able to provide proof of the date and time of purchase.

Paying Your Bills Online

Most companies offer you the convenience of paying your bills and checking your account online. Before enrolling in one of these "click-to-pay" programs, make sure you fully understand the company's privacy policy and security measures. If an appropriate description of a company's security procedures is not available, ask the company by calling them or emailing them.

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