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Quick Reminders for Safe Shopping Online

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The holidays are right around the corner, and with so much hustle and bustle it can be easy to miss unusual online activities. Here’s a quick review to help keep your privacy and financial information safe.

The U.S. e-commerce market will reach over $1.1 trillion in sales this year. But since nearly 40 percent of those sales are made on Amazon, which make it a favorite for online scammers.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, about 1 in 3 people who report a business impersonator say the scammer pretended to be Amazon.

Here is what you need to know to avoid popular holiday payment scams on Amazon:

  • Don't do business with a seller who directs you off the Amazon website. A legitimate Amazon seller transaction will never occur off the Amazon website.
  • Don't respond to an internet or phone offer you are not sure is honest.
  • Don't make a payment to someone you don't know or whose identity you cannot verify.
  • Don't respond to emails asking you to provide account information, such as your email address and password combination. Amazon will never ask for personal information.

Other Important Reminders for Safe Holiday Shopping Online

Protect Your Devices
This includes items like mobile phones, computers, and tablets, but can also include appliances, electronics, and children’s toys. Before making any online purchases, make sure the device you are using is up to date. An easy way to stay on top of this is to enable automatic software updates where applicable.

Remember to change default passwords as you open new accounts. Use a different and complex password for each online account you make. Consider a password manager to help organize and store unique passwords if this sounds a bit daunting.

And make sure you are not sharing more information than you want or need to provide. Check device privacy and security settings to make sure you understand how your information will be used and stored.

Shop Only Through Trusted Sources
Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Scammers may try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear to be legitimate. If you have never heard of it before, check twice before handing over your information.

Most of us receive emails from retailers about special offers during the holidays. Cybercriminals often send phishing emails (which can look very similar to legitimate retailers) with malicious links or ask you to input personal information. Avoid links that may appear in these emails or attachments. If you are unsure if an email is legitimate, type the URL of the retailer into your web browser as opposed to clicking the link.

Never provide your password, personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited email. Legitimate businesses will not email you for this kind of information.

Finally, make sure your information is encrypted. Indications your information will be encrypted include a URL that begins with “https:” instead of “http:” and a padlock icon. The information is encrypted if the padlock next to the URL is closed.

Use Safe Methods for Purchases
If you can, use a credit card as opposed to a debit card. There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, but you may not have the same level of protection for your debit cards. Additionally, because a debit card draws money directly from your bank account, unauthorized charges could leave you with insufficient funds to pay other bills.

Being informed and attentive can help ensure a safe online holiday shopping experience. Follow these simple rules to shop online more confidently.