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Shopping Safely

 

Safe online shopping is part common sense and part technology sense. First, it's important to know the difference between a regular web page and a secure page. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to tell. Depending on your browser, when you visit a secure site, the URL text or the navigation bar might turn green and a padlock icon will appear, either near the website address or at the bottom of the page. Another indication is the web address itself: a secure page address starts with "https" instead of "http" (see the MyUB Portal page as an example). On a secure page, any information you submit is encrypted, or encoded, before it is transported to the server.

Tips to remember when shopping online:

checkmark Submit credit card information on secure pages only.
 

Absolutely no credit card or banking account information should be entered on a web site that is not secure. Doing so is tantamount to taping your credit card to your front door.

checkmark Remember the telephone.
 

If you're not comfortable with ordering from a site, place your order over the phone.

checkmark  Be familiar with the company.
 

Just because a company's purchase page is secure does not mean you should continue with the purchase. If this is your first time purchasing from that company, take some time to call them. Find their refund/return policy. A little legwork in the beginning can save you hassle in the end.

checkmark Safety vs. convenience.
 

The convenience of storing your billing information with an online store speeds up future purchases. But before you allow a site to store your information, you'll want to consider two things: First, if someone manages to log into your store account from your computer, they can make purchases with your card and can often change the mailing address without the company being alarmed. Secondly, if that company has a security breach, your information is at risk.

checkmark  Check out the company on the Better Business Bureau web site.
 

You can search for businesses by name to learn their BBB rating, which is based on factors including customer service and business background.

checkmark Know your bank and credit card company's policy on disputes for online purchases.
checkmark Shop wisely. 
 

As with regular shopping, don't allow scare tactics or impulse buying to lure you into spending money frivolously (and perhaps shopping unsafely).

checkmark Visit safeshopping.org or OnGuard Online to learn more about safe shopping online.