Shopping online has become a popular alternative for people looking to skip the lines and chaos that shopping in stores can bring, but for unaware consumers shopping online can lead to a whole new set of problems as many cybercriminals look to scam unsuspecting holiday shoppers.
"Online shopping has become so popular that it now accounts for nearly half of all holiday shopping," said Abbe Forman, assistant professor of computer and information science at Temple University. "While online shopping is easy, convenient, and fun, security concerns still keep many folks away. Even savvy online shoppers should take a few extra moments to ensure their online safety so that their shopping experience is the best that it can be."
To avoid becoming one of those unfortunate people who will have an unhappy holiday season due to cyber-scams, Forman recommends online shoppers follow these steps.
Look out for scams
When looking for deals, Forman warns shoppers to be realistic. Oftentimes, a person's instincts are the best tool for weeding out scams from legitimate sales.
"Keep an eye out for scams; everyone loves a good sale, but if something looks too good to be true, it probably is," said Forman.
Know what information to give
There is no cost to window shop, and the same is true online. If websites ask for personal information prior to making a final purchase, more than likely there is something wrong. Forman also advises online shoppers to look at privacy policies on websites to see exactly how websites will use the information shoppers give.
"Don't give out more information than what is required," said Forman. "When filling out online forms, at either checkout or other times, only give the absolute minimum required info."
There is also nothing wrong with looking up information about retailers from which you will buy a product, according to Forman.
"Google them and see what other folks have said about their shopping experience with that company," said Forman. "Try lots of different keywords to get to the info you want or need to see. There are many sites such as Yelp.com that offer good customer reviews." Holiday Shoppers will do their Homework Before Shopping This Year
Make sure you are on a secured page
Forman also recommends online shoppers look to shop only on secured websites , as there is a lower likelihood of potential cyber-scams taking places on those websites.
"Always be sure that you are transacting across a secure connection by looking for both "https" in the address bar and the little padlock icon toward the bottom of the computer screen," said Forman. "You can also look for emblems associated with the Better Business Bureau online, VeriSign, and TRUSTe, These emblems tell you that the retailer is trusted and meets the standards necessary for these certifications."
Use another email address
While adding another e-mail address and password to your memory may seem like an unnecessary nuisance, Forman recommends online shoppers utilize a free e-mail service and do all online shopping with it.
"That way if the online retailer sells your e-mail address to a spammer, it won’t come to your primary e-mail address," said Forman.
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