Don’t Fall Into These Shopping Traps
If you're planning on skipping the lines and crowds this holiday season and doing your shopping online, here are a few shopping traps to not fall in to.
Don't Randomly Click
If you're on the hunt for one particular item, don't allow Google, Yahoo or Bing to find it for you. Go to a secure and reputable site like Amazon or PriceGrabber to find it. If you do brave the stores and can't find it, often you can go online to that store's website and find it, or check Amazon. Sometimes you can find it cheaper online, but don't go randomly clicking around. You're just asking to get your identity stolen. Jon Heimerl, director of strategic security for security-services company Solutionary says hackers and thieves "seed" the search results so you go to the first site on the result. He adds that there are certain things to look for when you're shopping. Look for security labels, such as VeriSign and Cybertrust, and for https:// to appear in the URL on pages that prompt you to enter personal information. That means you're entering your information on a secure, encrypted site.
Do Monitor Your Accounts
It's important to always look at your accounts and make sure that what you have written down matches what your bank or credit card company has on file. If not, you should report the suspicious activity immediately. Sometimes with debit cards, if you don't report what's happening right away, you could be on the hook for the fraudulent purchases. Heimerl urges shoppers to use just one credit card for online shopping. That way you can notice unauthorized activity right away.
Don't Use Public Wi-Fi
If you're passing the time by shopping online at the coffee house, airport or any other public area and they have wi-fi, make a bookmark of what site you were on when you found what you wanted, but don't enter in any personal information until you get on a secure wi-fi connection or are back on your home computer. Experts say it's super easy for hackers to tap in to your computer to see what you're entering.
Do Be Skeptical
If you're shopping online for a car and you find what you want at a super low price, be afraid. Be very afraid. If they're asking for an immediate direct wire or don't accept credit cards, walk away. Same goes for other online deals. If the sale seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. Especially if it comes in an unsolicited email. Say you're looking for the Nintendo 3DS and you put into Google to see what stores have it at the best price, but you don't buy it online and the next day you get an unsolicited email with a link to buy the same item for $99 when you know it retails for $199, delete the email. It's a scam. You're better off going straight to the retailer's website to check and see if it really is that cheap.
Don't Trust Social Media
The links in the ads along the side of your Facebook or links in your Twitter feed are likely shortened into a bit.ly or an ow.ly so you don't know if you're going to a secure site or not, so it's best to just not click no matter how tempting the offer is. Heimerl says that it's OK to use it as a "deal notification" but again, go to the retailer's website to buy directly.