18 Online Shopping Tips for the Coming Holiday Season

There is no need to lose faith in online shopping, but we must all take some precautions and use good judgment when shopping online so that it can remain a safe and enjoyable experience.

More and more people are turning to the Internet to find better deals. While this growing trend has been beneficial for both consumers and retailers, criminal elements have found ways to capture and exploit the private information being sent back and forth between buyers and sellers.

1. Use websites that you trust

While unfamiliar sites may try to entice you with unbelievable sales, the sites with names that you know tend to be more trustworthy. They invest more in security because they value their reputation.

2. Look for a closed lock next to the site address

Before you give up any sensitive information to a site, take a look at the page’s web address in your browser. If is starts with “https”, rather that the usual “http”, then you know that you information will be encrypted as it is being sent. Think of that “s” as “secure”!

3. Secure your home Wi-Fi network

Be sure your Wi-Fi at home is password protected. You never know who might intercept the exchanges between your computer and your router.

4. Protect your personal information

Retailers don’t ask you for your date of birth or social insurance number when you use your credit card in person, so online retailers certainly don’t need it to process an order. Card number, expiration date, three-digit verification number on the back of your card—that’s it!

5. Shop from home

Avoid making purchases from public computers or over Wi-Fi in public places. If you have to make transactions under these dubious conditions, be sure to log out when you’re done.

6. Scrutinize your credit card bill

Verify that the transactions on your bill are yours. Investigate and report any transactions that you didn’t make yourself.

7. Download trusted antivirus software

Software like Cogeco F-Secure Security Services is your first line of defense against online threats. It will keep you and your information protected and will automatically update your computer’s defenses. Learn more about Cogeco Security Services offered for free with most of our High Speed Internet packages.

8. Create unique and stronger passwords

Using the same user ID and password may make life easier, but it could also make stealing and using your identity easier for criminals.Create unique IDs and complicated passwords by mixing in capital letters, numbers and punctuation.

9. Use the mobile app

Rather than using a website from your handheld device, check to see if your trusted retailer has an app. Buying directly through a specialized app can make you experience easier and safer.

10. Remember that public Wi-Fi is PUBLIC

If making purchases in public places is unavoidable, keep in mind that you could be displaying some very sensitive information on your screen. Be discrete as someone might be looking over your shoulder.

11. Be skeptical of promotions and special offers

If it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Gifts and unbelievable offers from unknown sources are usually given to bait you into a scam.

12. Use a credit card rather than a debit card

Your credit cards have policies that protect you from theft and unauthorized use. Your debit card is a direct path to your money. Using your credit card responsibly seems the obvious choice.

13. Update your browser and security software

The latest version of your browser is more likely to have better defenses against the latest online threats. Cogeco Security Services make life easier by updating itself automatically.

14. Set up an email account just for your shopping needs

Put more distance between your everyday life and online threats by creating an email account just for your online shopping. It will also cut down on the amount of spam in your daily inbox.

15. Check for and understand the website’s privacy and return policy

Be sure that the site has a privacy policy that protects your personal information. While you’re at it, make sure you can return a product if you need to.

16. Block or ignore pop-ups screens

Many browsers now allow you to block pop-ups, but if you have not activated this feature, be wary of windows that open up out of nowhere. Pop-ups may not be associated with the site you are on, so never enter any personal information to a suspicious-looking window.

17. Never reply to “confirmation” emails

Legitimate websites will never ask you to confirm purchase details or account information by repeating private information given during the transaction. At most, they will confirm a purchase by sending you a receipt.

18. Listen to your instincts

Above all, trust your gut. If something about the transaction seems strange or makes you uncomfortable, simply stop and go to a site that you know and can trust. There are so many retailers online. Why take the risk?

By following theses simple recommendations, you can rest easy in the knowledge that you will not put your private information at any undue risk. Happy shopping!

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