‘Tis the season for online shopping! We better get those last few school supplies, Halloween costumes will need to be bought, and oh yeah, Christmas is right around the corner!
Photo: FotoDB.de, Flickr Creative Commons
About this time of year, you’ll find tons of articles about how to safely shop online for your kids. Why? Because everyone knows that with the increase of shopping we do, there is a proportional number of scammers trying to take advantage of us.
But all those other articles you’ll read are filled with the same ol' information we’ve been reading since the invention of the internet. By now, you should know your http from your https.
So, let’s take a look at three new tips that can increase the safety odds for you and your children.
Avoid Public Terminals and Free Wi-Fi Sure, it’s super convenient to shop on the library’s computer while the kids are at story time. Who wants to hear The Little Red Hen, again?! Unfortunately, these computers aren’t always as secure as you want them to be. To stay safe, don’t visit any sites that require you to login (even checking your email could be troublesome). And enter a credit card number at your own risk! At the very least, be sure to log off when you are done.
Additionally, as there are people around with really good eyesight just waiting for you to enter personal information onto the screen, think like a mobster; and sit with your back to the wall.
Photo: superfem, Flickr Creative Commons
Most of us think free Wi-Fi is the bomb, but it’s also a surefire way to get hacked. The truth is, thieves love uninformed and unprotected shoppers. If you simply must shop online in the public sphere, proceed with caution. Only use wireless hotspots that you’re familiar with and are available via reputable venders—McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc.
Don’t Just File Your Statements Away If you’re anything like me, you have a tendency to pay the bill and file the statements until tax time. However, that’s definitely not in your best interest. Keep an eye on all activity attached to your credit, debit and checking accounts.
Some thieves will test the waters when attempting to use a new stolen card number. They might try to place a small order or two to see if you’ll notice. Fraud doesn’t necessarily come in big, obvious charges.
Make sure you go over each and every transaction on your statement. Besides, you want to keep an eye out for the potential in-app purchases your kids might have accidentally clicked on. If there’s a transaction that seems odd or unfamiliar, don’t hesitate to call your provider or banking institution right away.
One of the best forms of consumer protection is the chargeback (this article explains what a chargeback is). If you do become a victim of fraud, you always have a way to get your money back.
However, chargebacks shouldn’t be used haphazardly. Try contacting the merchant first; make sure the charge really was faulty. Maybe you just forgot about that impulsive trip to the ice cream parlor and don’t really need a chargeback. If you do need to file a chargeback, contact your bank (or credit card company) right away. There is a very small period of time available to file a chargeback. Once the deadline has passed, the only thing you can do is pay the bill.
Utilise Credit Card Company Securities Visa and MasterCard have their own unique systems that add protection for cardholders. The concept is that additional password protection will help deter fraudsters.
After enrolling with these programs (the process is quick and easy), you’ll receive a pop-up window in the midst of your checkout any time you shop online. After entering the predetermined code, you’ll be able to continue.
This extra ounce of security is intended to block unauthorized transactions. Since fraudsters won’t know your secret password, they won’t be able to continue using your card for that particular transaction.
Chargebacks are great for getting your money back after fraud, but preventing those unauthorized transactions from happening is a much better option!
Photo: roujo, Flickr Creative Commons
Safety First Online shopping is definitely a luxury; sometimes a necessity! But the ease of shopping online is quickly negated if you become a victim of fraud. Protect your accounts and yourself when shopping online. Take these additional steps and you should be able to navigate the upcoming shopping season just fine!