|How to Shop Safely Online|
Shopping online offers lots of benefits you won't find shopping in traditional stores. The worldwide stores of the Internet never close. You can order tulip bulbs directly from Holland, exotic spices from Turkey or handwoven wall hangings from Mexico or Morocco -- anytime 365-days a year. Taking advantage of their low overhead, Internet vendors often offer highly discounted prices. Savings can be substantial. In addition, Internet stores now offer more safe and flexible payment methods than ever before.
Only a few simple precautions are required to help ensure that your online shopping experience is a safe one:
- Use a Secure Web Browser - They scramble or "encrypt" your purchase information so that only you and the vendor can read it. Many online stores now "sense" whether or not your browser is secure and will help you proceed accordingly. DO NOT ORDER from online stores that do not offer secured transactions. Most new computers come with secured browsers installed, or you can download them free over the Internet. [Download the latest Web browsers]
- Keep Records - Most online stores will email you confirmation of your order. Print out and save these.
- Check your credit card and bank statements - look for errors and purchases you did not make. If you find errors, call your credit card company or bank immediately.
- Check the online store's policies - Look for disclosures about the Web site's security, refund and return policies, and statements about how the Web site will use your personal information. Look for links to "About" pages or "FAQ" pages. If a Web store says nothing about protecting your privacy, shop somewhere else.
Online and Off - Protect Your Identity
- Never tell your password - to anybody, not even your Internet service provider. Other than to gain access, no legitimate service will ever ask you for your password.
- Watch what you download - Never download files, run programs or view graphics sent to you by strangers. Beware of clicking on URL "links" sent to you in email by people you do not know.
- Most Important of All - Keep Your Personal Information Private! Unless you know the people asking and why they are asking for it, never tell anyone your address, telephone number, Social Security number, email address or passwords.
More Resources for Privacy and Safety
Safety for Children
Kids and parents should read this publication from the Federal Trade Commission that explains both what the Internet and Web are all about and how to use them safely.
Credit Billing Act and Electronic Fund Transfer Act
Laws establishing procedures for resolving mistakes on credit account and bank account statements.
- The Internet Alliance
Represents companies involved in online commerce, which, along with the National Consumers League, sponsors Project Open to help consumers get the most out of going online.
- National Consumer League
Advocacy organization working to protect and promote the economic and social interests of America's consumers.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the Online Complaint Form. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies U.S. and abroad.