As the holidays grow closer and the lines at the department stores grow longer it may make more sense for some of us to do our shopping online. With lots of websites offering free shipping and smart deals, shopping online can sometimes save you both time and money. It's not unusual, however, for some to wonder how safe it really is to shop online and whether or not to share their personal information with just any site.
A recent article from the Washington Post shares some great tips on how to safely shop online this holiday season. One tip is to use your credit card rather than your debit card. Even though you may not want to wrack up the credit card bill this year, fraud analyst Avivah Litan explains why it is safer than using a debit card. Litan says that if your debit card number is stolen online it can be more complicated to sort out with the bank than if a credit card number is stolen, especially when fraud causes overdrafts or bounced checks. Whereas with credit cards there are usually policies in place that limit your responsibility for fraudulent activity to around $50.
Make sure you see the SSL sign/padlock on the browser address bar before entering any personal or financial information. If you don't see this, you are probably on a fraudulent site. Also, make sure to keep all of your receipts or take a screen shot so you can easily keep track of all your online shopping.
If sharing personal financial information over the web still rubs you the wrong way, there may be some alternatives. Some sites offer a "bill me later" option or you may want to consider using apre-paid credit card so there is no danger of your real credit card number being stolen.
Another good tip when online shopping is to take your time, read all the fine print so you know you will be getting exactly what you want. Though a lot of online stores are offering free shipping, make sure you read all the terms before making the purchase. Look to see if they offer a return policy and make sure you are not signing up for any unwanted offers.
What do you think of the online shopping security tips offered above?
Do you feel comfortable doing some of your holiday shopping online this year?