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Shopping Online Safely

Shopping online is a convenient way to get the products and services that you need. With many people choosing to shop online, modern day thieves have adapted and developed new techniques to scam people. These fraudsters have the ability to hack and scam people through digital devices or the internet. To help protect you while shopping online, we have compiled a list of tips to help make shopping online more secure.

NEVER send money or give your  debit or credit card information to someone you do not know

Many scammers use catfishing, social media bots and other scams to get you to send money or provide your debit or credit card information to them. Never send money or information to someone you do not know.

Know your internet connection

Always make sure that you are shopping on a secure connection. Never use public WIFI. If you are using your phone carrier data to make the purchase, disable WIFI or Bluetooth. Public WIFI or Bluetooth allows people nearby an avenue to gain access to credit card or other data. Only turn on WIFI or Bluetooth when needed. 

Also, make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-malware protection and current versions of software.  This goes for mobile devices, too.

Use a trusted site or known merchant

Only buy from reputable websites. If you do not know the merchant, the item you purchase may not be the quality you expect, or the merchant may not respond if there are issues with the product. Sometimes some merchants have shipping issues or you never receive the product. If this happens, you want a merchant who will work with you on a solution.

Tips to ensure you are using a reputable website

  • Look for a secure web address. For example, HTTPS:// rather than HTTP://. HTTPS:// means the communication from your computer to their website is encrypted.
  • Carefully review the web address to ensure the domain name is correct.
  • Watch for poor grammar and spelling on the website.
  • You can use Google’s Safe Browsing Transparency Report (https://transparencyreport.google.com) to type in a website address and get information on the site’s legitimacy.
  • If you download a shopping app, make sure it is from a reputable app store like the PlayStore or the Apple App Store.

Read the shipping terms

Be cautious of large shipping fees or merchants who do not ship an item within two weeks of order date.  Find out whether or not the merchant provides tracking information and if they will let you know when the item ships.

Only communicate with the merchant through the merchant website

  • If the seller contacts you through email and not through the secure channel communication through their website or app, this could be a red flag. 
  • If you receive an offer via email, text or social media, go directly to the merchant’s website to see if the offer is legitimate.

Use a protected method of payment

Use a credit card or PayPal.  Do not use a debit card or check when shopping online as these do not have the same security protections in place for you should a problem arise. PayPal has protections that other services such as Cash App and Venmo do not have.

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