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Holiday shopping online? Here’s how to protect yourself


By Samuetta Hill Drew

Once upon a time, not too long ago, people would plan holiday shopping trips to cities with stores not located in their particular city or state.

It involved people traveling by airplane or long car rides, and included both food and lodging costs. It was a trip some people planned far in advance and would use their personal or vacation days from work to indulge them this retail luxury. Technology has made the necessity for these trips obsolete.

With the onset of technology, shopping has become less stressful and can be done in the comfort of your home or at work. It is now far more economical for those individuals living in geographical areas with little or no real retail options. With just a few clicks on your PC, anyone can purchase merchandise from stores all around the world. There are literally, no more lines and no more waiting. Just use your PC and shop online.

Delivery is often free. In fact, the fashion industry now markets to online shoppers and there is even a day coined for them which advertises super bargains entitled “Cyber Monday”. Unfortunately, with the ease of a few minor clicks come some real safety concerns online shoppers should be aware of and protect themselves from.

Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.

Do your research. When using a new website for purchases, read the reviews and see the experiences other shoppers have had using this website.

Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact.

Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner. Shop with companies you know and trust. Links in emails, posts and texts are often ways cybercriminals try to steal your personal information or infect your devices. Credit cards usually are the safest option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what you want.

Use secure websites for shopping. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom on the screen or https:// in the URL address. This indicates an extra measure to help secure your information.

To avoid purchasing counterfeit products, carefully examine the products you want to purchase for signs of missing information (manufacturing information, warranty, product codes, etc.), broken or missing safety seals, different or incomplete packaging, and subtle or obvious changes to a company logo.

It is important as you enjoy the convenience of online shopping that you Keep an Eye on Safety by taking security precautions, think about the consequences of your actions before you click Submit on your PC.