Holiday Shopping? Online is fine—just keep safety in mind

November 3rd, 2011 | By admin No Comments
By Kellie Terhune Neely, Vice President Marketing, Hughes Federal Credit Union

‘Tis the season for online shopping! Just remember a few tips to make it safer.

Carina is studying at the public library and decides she needs a break. She heads to the library computers to do some online browsing for holiday gifts.

Marcus finds an unbelievable deal on electronics at a site he’s discovered. He’ll need a money order, but at this price, it’s worth the trip to the store to get one.

Pat is online and sees an email subject line about below-wholesale prices on brand name watches. It’s a spam mail but what’s the harm?

All of these online shoppers may be heading for trouble of one sort or another. But that’s not to say they shouldn’t be shopping online. In fact, chances are you are already an online shopper. Over 75% of U.S. shoppers have purchased at least one item on the internet. Clothes. Electronics. Even cars! And nearly one in four shoppers in the U.S. spent over $500 online during the 2008 holiday season. It’s truly become the world’s super mall, and just like the mall up the street, all kinds of people are strolling through it: men and women, browsers and big spenders, young and elderly. Why do people shop online? You probably already know the answer. According to Bernadette Tracy of Media Life Magazine, the number one reason given is convenience. The number two reason is saving money. Online shopping is becoming more and more popular. But how can Carina and Marcus and Pat – and you – make it an even better experience? Brian Krebs of the Washington Post offers five tips to protect yourself and prevent identity theft:

  1. If purchasing through the internet, make sure to shop from a secure PC and not one that can be accessed easily by the public.
  2. Shop only at familiar and trustworthy sites.
  3. Shop with credit cards because they tend to be more secure than debit cards. Furthermore, never comply if a purchase requires you to pay by money order or wired payment.
  4. Consider alternative payment methods. Many financial institutions offer customers a unique, one-time use account specifically for online purchases.
  5. Avoid spam. Set up your email account to automatically send junk mail offers to a virtual trash bin.

Online shopping can be fun, convenient and money-saving. And you can save yourself a lot of hassles later by keeping security in mind.

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