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The Dark Side of Online Shopping: Tips to avoid getting scammed.

in Protecting Your Identity
online shopping

Online shopping has become a convenient and popular way to purchase everything from lunch to luxe vacations. Unfortunately, convenience can come with some risk, including the threat of scams. Protecting your financial information and avoiding fraud is more important than ever – and increasingly challenging. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while shopping online.

Stay Safe While Shopping Online

  1. Shop from Reputable Websites

Always ensure you are shopping from reputable and well-known websites. Look for URLs that start with “https://”—the “s” stands for secure. Additionally, check for reviews and ratings of the website to confirm its legitimacy. Websites with many negative reviews or complaints should be avoided, as should sites with which you have little or no familiarity.

  1. Beware of Deals That Are Too Good to Be True

As the saying goes, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often lure shoppers with incredibly low prices to steal their money or personal information. Compare prices across different websites, and if one site’s price is significantly lower, proceed with caution.

  1. Use Strong, Unique Passwords

Ensure that your online shopping accounts have strong, unique passwords. Avoid using easily guessable passwords such as “123456” or “password.” Instead, use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Consider using a password manager to create passwords and keep track of them securely. A password manager can be time-consuming to set up, but once you have one, it can be easy to use, convenient, and provide an extra layer of security.

  1. Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure, making them a prime target for hackers looking to steal personal information. Avoid entering your financial information or making purchases when connected to public Wi-Fi. If you must shop online while on the go, use a virtual private network (VPN) to secure your connection – especially if you are in an airport or traveling abroad.

  1. Monitor Your Bank Statements Regularly

Regularly check your account statements and online banking accounts for any unauthorized transactions. Early detection of fraudulent activity can help mitigate damage. If you notice any suspicious activity, report it to your financial institution immediately.

  1. Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit Cards

Credit cards often offer better protection against fraud than debit cards. If your credit card information is stolen, you can dispute the charges with your card issuer. With a debit card, stolen funds are directly withdrawn from your checking account, and it may take longer to recover your money.

  1. Be Cautious with Emails and Links

Phishing scams are common in online shopping. Be wary of emails or messages claiming to be from reputable companies asking for personal information or directing you to click on suspicious links. Always verify the source before clicking on any links or providing any information.

  1. Keep Your Devices Secure

Ensure that your computer, smartphone, and other devices are secure. Install antivirus software, keep your operating system and applications up to date, and enable firewalls. These measures can help protect your devices from malware and other security threats.

  1. Use Two-Factor Authentication

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your online shopping accounts. 2FA provides an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password. This makes it significantly harder for scammers to gain access to your accounts.

  1. Know Your Consumer Rights

Familiarize yourself with your consumer rights and the policies of the online retailers you use. This includes understanding the return and refund policies, as well as what to do if you receive a faulty or counterfeit product.

Conclusion

The convenience of online shopping makes it an increasing part of our everyday lives, but don’t let familiarity lull you into a false sense of security. Billions of dollars are stolen every year by fraudsters and scammers. By following these tips, you can protect yourself from scams and enjoy a safer online shopping experience. Stay vigilant, and always prioritize your financial security. If you ever feel uncertain about a transaction or website, trust your instincts, and take extra precautions.

Lafayette Federal is Committed to Our Members’ Financial Well-being

At Lafayette Federal, we know that the rise of online scams puts more and more people at risk of financial fraud every day. We care about our members’ online and financial safety, and our team members are trained to help you spot potential scams or abuse that could harm your financial wellbeing.

If you have concerns about a potential scam or believe you may be a victim to one, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Come into a branch or learn more about protecting your identity online at Lafayette Federal.

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