It’s fair to say that e-commerce has exploded into a global phenomenon. To find the absolute best deals and to get access to products and services that you just can’t find anywhere else, using the internet to do your shopping is going to be a necessity.
You know you need to be able to shop online to save the most amount of money, but how do you do it safely, keeping your financial details, personal information, and identity safe from would-be thieves?
The consumer advocates at Matthew R. Osborne, PC are here to help with some tips that can help keep you safe when shopping online. These tips can be useful throughout the year, not just during the busy holiday shopping season.
[Note: This blog post should not serve as legal advice. If your identity has been compromised and you need help resolving your situation with credit reporting agencies or other financial institutions, contact our offices today to schedule an initial consultation.]
Tip #1: Make sure you know who you are buying from.
There are literally tens of thousands of different online retailers that conduct business on the internet every day. And, the vast majority of them are legitimate without any intention to steal your money or your identity.
But, there are a few bad apples, and they can be difficult to distinguish from the rest.
To defend yourself against dishonest online retailers, make sure you research any website you’re considering buying from, especially if it’s one you haven’t used before. Many sites like Amazon.com or eBay are safer bets, and they have buyer protection policies in place—use larger, better-established online vendors whenever possible.
If you have any concerns about a specific website you’d like to buy from, consider checking their consumer review information on TrustPilot.
Also, when the time comes to enter your credit card information, billing address, and other sensitive information online, check to ensure that the webpage you’re using is secure. This is easily done by checking for “https://” at the beginning of the page address as well as a padlock icon on the address bar.
Tip #2: Avoid using public wifi connections when transmitting sensitive information online.
Even though the website you’re using to order something might be secure, your connection to the internet may not be.
Using public wifi networks like those available at coffeehouses, bookstores, and internet cafes can present data security vulnerabilities that could compromise your credit card information or personally identifying data.
To avoid this, conduct online transactions using a secure, private internet connection—ideally one that you’ve reliably used before without any known security issues.
Tip #3: Check to ensure that your antivirus and firewall software is up-to-date.
Even the basic, pre-installed antivirus programs that now come standard with a new computer do a fairly decent job at keeping harmful viruses out of your computer. But, even the best antivirus program won’t work well if it’s not kept up-to-date with the latest virus definitions and developer patches.
Head into the security settings section of your computer and do a quick audit to make sure that all of your computer security programs are current and functioning well. Doing so will go a long way in stopping security threats at the source.
Tip #4: Be skeptical of ‘too good to be true’ offers.
You’ve heard the old saying: “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” The same can be said for online shopping.
While there are some great deals to be found throughout the internet, there are also plenty of dishonest individuals who want nothing more than to lure you in with a great-sounding deal, only to take your money and leave you holding the bag.
Think twice before jumping onto an offer that is absurdly, unbelievably good. Conduct your due diligence on the vendor, check for reviews, and always think critically before deciding to proceed with a purchase.
Tip #5: If your identity is stolen and you need legal representation to fix the problem, contact Matthew R. Osborne, PC.
This last tip should go without saying, but it bears repeating!
Our legal team specializes in representing victims of identity theft as they go about resolving the issue and getting their financial welfare back on track. We do the legal heavy lifting necessary to get the credit reporting agencies and other financial institutions to accurately and honestly represent your actual credit history and identifying information.
If you need help putting the pieces back together after having your identity stolen, contact our offices today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.