Online Shopping

A few clues that a shopping site isn't trustworthy

  • The site looks poorly designed, unprofessional and contains broken links.
  • You can't find an address or phone number for the business.
  • Sales, return and privacy policies are hard to find or unclear.
  • The back button is disabled. In other words, you get stuck on a page and can't go back.
  • You're asked for credit card information anytime other than when you are making a purchase.

How to protect yourself when you're shopping online

  • An indicator that a website should be secure is the lock icon or unbroken key in the bottom right corner of the screen or a website address that begins with https://.
  • Double check that the website address begins with https:// (“s” is for “secure”).
  • Pay by credit card if you can. Do not send cash.
  • Be on the lookout for prices that are too good to be true. They're likely counterfeits.
  • Don't use public Wi-Fi to shop online.
  • Read the privacy policy and find out how your information will be used.
  • Don't respond to an email or pop-up message that asks for financial information. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information this way.
  • Read your credit card statements and check for unauthorized charges.
  • Make sure your firewall is “on”. For example, Windows Firewall is on by default on the latest version of Windows, but make sure it isn't turned off:
    • Open Windows Firewall by clicking the Start button then the Control Panel
    • In the search box type “firewall” then click Windows Firewall
    • In the left pane, click Turn Windows Firewall on or off
  • Don't allow auto fill for your passwords or personal information, like your address, and never allow a site to store your credit card information
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