Shopping online - is the website secure?

Is your personal information safe?

Online shopping is convenient, quick, and easy. However; before you starting adding items to your shopping cart, make sure your computer has the latest security software, operating system, web browsers, and is up-to-date. Keeping your computer clean is the best defense against malware, online threats, and viruses.

Make sure the website is legitimate. Before you begin to enter your financial and personal information to make an online transaction, look for signs that the website is safe and secure. This will include a closed padlock on the URL address and web browser’s address, which should begin with https or shttp. This will also indicate that the purchase is secured or encrypted. Never use an unsecured wireless network to make online purchases.

Below are a few steps to help you determine if a website is secure:

1. No pop-up ads. Be cautious about clicking on realistic-looking retial ads, which pop up on your screen when you are surfing the Web. Most reputable retailers do not use pop-up ads. These retailers know that customers do not like them and using them will turn consumers away.

2. No unsolicited emails. Website, which are reputable online retailers will not send out solicitations emails unless you sign up to get information from them or their partner sites. Be cautious of unsolicited emails that look like them com from national banks or PayPal. These are meant to trick you into giving out your personal information. If you receive an unsolicited email, contact the retailer by phone to check for authentic.

3. The company has a return policy. Reputable websites will spell put their return policies, which will include shipping policies. If you cannot find this information on the website, shop elsewhere.

4. The retailer has a phone number or physical address. If the retailer does, this is a good sign that their company is real. Authentic businesses will post their phone number and location so that consumers may reach them whenever this is a problem. You way also call the number for reassurance. 

5. The website has privacy statements. Reputable websites will information how they will secure your credit-card data and protect your personal information and if they will sell your information about consumers to third parties. There will be a disclosure statement and if you should consider whether you feel comfortable with the retailer’s policy before purchasing.

6. Credit cards are accepted. Credit cards give customers more protection than what a debit card does. Reputable sites will accept several different credit cards. This is a good sign that the company is legit, because they had to apply to leading credit card companies for approval. Suspicious websites might ask for debit card numbers or checks, be wary of these websites.

7. The website will feature an unbroken key icon or padlock. Before you input your credit card number, check and make sure the website is encrypted and enabled for online safety. Encryption is a data-scrambling technology, which keeps criminals from stealing personal financial information. Look for icons such as the unbroken key or padlock at the bottom or top of your browser, which is a sign that the website uses encryption.