'Tis the season for excessive shopping and since many people will purchase their holiday gifts online, this is a good time to brush up on some internet safety tips. Here are a few reminders for protecting your personal and financial information while shopping online:
- Don't share your banking information while using free public Wi-Fi or public computers.
- Only shop on secure sites that begin with "https" and/or display a padlock in your browser.
- Verify the reputation of the online merchant. If you are unsure about a merchant do your research.
- Make sure your computer and browser security features are installed and updated.
- Confirm a working customer service phone number in case you have issues with the product.
- Avoid shopping for a product based upon unsolicited emails, texts or pop-up advertisements.
- Be suspicious if you are shopping for a product and one site is offering unbelievably lower prices than any other site. They may be trying to collect personal information or sell knock-off products.
- Read the fine print, terms and conditions and return policy before finalizing any purchase.
- Only use a credit card when shopping online, avoid any less conventional forms of payment like money orders.
- Keep a record of your purchase on file in case you need to reference it in the future.
- Regularly check your credit card statements to ensure all transactions are authorized by you.
If you are concerned about the safety and security of your information online, you always have the option to shop over the phone or in a store. To report online fraud to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center visit www.ic3.gov or call an AARP Foundation ElderWatch volunteer specialist at 800-222-4444 or 303-222-4444 (Denver Metro Area). You can also visit www.aarpelderwatch.org for more information.