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Tips to Protect When Shopping Online

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Identity theft is a very real concern, especially with thieves trying new tactics through modern technology. Consumers should not avoid shopping online purely due to worries over identity theft, but should instead take special precautions to protect themselves âÃÂàand their bank accounts – from any potential fraud and identity theft online.

If you are already shopping online for various items, you certainly have your favorite stores. Whether you enjoy Amazon, eBay, Buy.com, or others, you’ll find many deals and even free shipping offers to entice you to buy more and more. Shopping with merchants you know and trust is vital to protecting your identity when shopping online. You might even receive special offers from time to time due to your brand loyalty.

If you would like to try a new online retailer with whom you’ve never shopped before, just be cautious as you think about your purchases. You may not want to break the bank on your first purchase with a new retailer, but instead consider purchasing something small to ensure the transaction goes smoothly. You should also pay with a credit card so your consumer rights are protected if you never receive the item from the merchant or if anything else goes wrong in the transaction.

Here are a few additional tips to help you protect your identity and your financial assets when shopping online:

Shop from a secure computer, such as your own personal laptop or desktop computer.âÃÂè

Browse to the online shopping sites from a Web browser that is known to be safer than others. Mozilla Firefox may be a good option, offering fewer security holes than the popular Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Look for the lock / lock and key security icon on your browser’s lower right corner when shopping online. You can also check to see if the Web site address begins with “https” for “secure.”

Don’t store your credit card information online.

Avoid using forms or tools that automatically populate your data into the fields when making a purchase.

Shop at stores you know and trust for the most part. Make the lesser known stores the exception only when needed.

Shop with your credit card so you can dispute the purchase if needed.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Use caution when shopping online!

Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock, a leading identity theft protection service, offers further tips for safer online shopping around the holidays and all throughout the year. Davis recommends shopping only with merchants that offer a guarantee or warranty on the products or services you are purchasing. He also reminds consumers to carefully read the shipping information and return and privacy policies before actually making the purchase.

It’s best to know exactly what you are getting yourself into rather than worrying about it after the fact. The privacy policy lets you know what the site does with your information and what details about you are being stored. Davis notes that it might be better to avoid shopping online anywhere you cannot find a privacy policy just to be on the safe side.

Don’t forget to print your receipt and check your billing statement to ensure you are paying only what you owe!

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