Shopping online: Tips for the holidays

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The holiday season is upon us, and that means millions of people will be shopping for gifts online. Though online shopping peaks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can be a safe shopper year-round. Here are some tips to remember:

-Always use a credit card. Never use a wire-transfer or a non-credit card method to buy anything online. Laws allow you to challenge any disputed item that shows up on your credit card bill, and most credit card companies have what’s called a “zero liability” policy that doesn’t hold you accountable for charges made if your card is lost or stolen.

-Make sure you’re using a secure site when paying for something. The site you’re visiting may not have an “https” in the URL, but you should see one when you go to check out. As an example, when you shop at Amazon, you only see www.amazon.com in the URL. But when you go to pay for the items in your shopping cart, you’re taken to a secure version of the site. You can see that the checkout page begins with “https,” a sign that you’re on a secure site.

-When in doubt, do some research! If looking at a website that seems sketchy, pause for a second and do some research on the company before you buy. The Better Business Bureau offers a list of accredited businesses on its website. You can also Google the company. You may find customer reviews and experiences that could help you determine if the site is legitimate. If in doubt, don’t buy.

-Finally, don’t click on links directly from e-mails. Businesses love to send e-mails touting their latest sales. But so do scammers! If you get an e-mail from the Gap advertising 30% off, don’t click directly from the email. Instead, type in the Gap’s web address directly into your browser and then search for the deals. This helps prevent you from clicking on a link from a phishing email.

Online shopping is fun and convenient. Just make sure you’re doing it safely and securely, and you should be fine.

For more tips on online security and privacy, visit our website at www.securitymatters.iu.edu

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