Safety while you shop online

With an internet connection almost as constant as oxygen, online shopping has taken over the retail industry. Now, with the addition of smart phones and other devices at our fingertips, we can make purchases from nearly any and everywhere we go!

A study by Forrester Research said online shopping sales are predicted to grow steadily to $370 billion in 2017, up from $231 billion in 2012. That’s an increase of almost $28 billion every year.

With so many of our purchases being made online, more and more personal and financial data is saved in automated fields and stored whether we are aware of it or not.

Here are some tips to remember to help keep you safe while you shop online.

STAY AWAY FROM SITES THAT SEEM UNUSUAL

Things like misspellings, requests for unnecessary personal information or low-resolution logos and photos may be an indication of an unsecure site.

NEVER SHOP FROM A PUBLIC COMPUTER

Computers save information – such as login credentials – to increase the speed of the connection, so it’s important to take extra precautions if you need to access an online account from a public computer. When logging in to a site, do not select options such as “keep me signed in” or “remember me.” This way, others who use the same network or computer will not be able to access your personal account information.

ONLY SHOP USING SECURE SITES AND CONNECTIONS

Signs of a secure site include a closed padlock on the web browser’s address bar or a URL that begins with “https.” In addition to websites, be sure your internet connection is secure. If you shop from an unprotected network, like a public WiFi connection, hackers can more easily access payment information and other secure data.

ONLY FILL REQUIRED FIELDS

During checkout, only fill out required fields and be aware of information being requested. If you don’t think the information is necessary to complete your order, consider shopping somewhere else.

CHECK THE PRIVACY POLICY

Review the website’s privacy policy to be sure you understand how the information you provide will be stored and used.

USE SMART AND SAFE PAYMENT OPTIONS

Never send cash through the mail or money-wiring service as you have no recourse if something goes wrong.

SAVE YOUR RECORDS

Save records of all your online transactions including the product description, price, terms of the sale, order confirmation and any other correspondence with the seller. Cross check the information with your credit card statement to make sure there are no discrepancies.

For more tips and tricks to keep your identity and data secure, visit trustonefinancial.org/protect .

Editor’s Note: Segments and statistics in the article were taken from staysafeonline.com, cmo.com and home.mcafee.com