According to a national poll conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance, 68% of all Americans make purchases online. If you have not yet done so or are sometimes hesitant about online shopping because of security concerns, use the following tips to develop and maintain good cyber-shopping habits.

  1. santaMake sure that all security browsers on your computer are current and self-updating. The computer in your Mongtomery home is only as safe as you make it.
  2. NEVER give out your social security number!
  3. Use only secure and reputable websites. Secure websites add the letter “s” after http on their order page. Another indicator is a closed lock seen at the bottom of your screen.It is safer to use a website you’re familiar with or one found using a well-known search engine. You should also look for a physical address and customer service phone number, although those things are not always a guarantee of safety. To check on the reliability of a site, contact the Better Business Bureau.
  4. Limit the personal information you provide. In fact, because merchants sometimes sell your email address, you may wish to create an email account that you use only for online purchases. Also, use the same credit card for all online purchases to aid in tracking fraudulent transactions or a security breach.
  5. Check out shipping and handling charges before ordering. Merchants often add as much as 10%-15% of the product’s cost to your order.
  6. Print out copies of your order, shipping confirmation, etc. on your Mongtomery home computer.
  7. Be familiar with the return policy. Are returns allowed at all? Is there a time limit? Is there a “restocking” fee for returns? Who is responsible for paying shipping and handling on returns? If return information is not posted on the website, request that it be sent to you.
  8. Pay with a credit card. Paypal and debit cards require an immediate reporting of fraud in order to get your money back. Also, your liability for fraudulent credit card charges is zero when the card is used online. Check with your credit card company to see if they offer a virtual card, which masks out your real account number.

Cyber-shopping is fast and convenient. It provides you with a vast array of products from which to choose in the comfort of your Mongtomery home and allows you to shop at any hour.. Buying online can be an efficient and pleasurable experience if you remain web-wise and security-savvy.