Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cyber Safety

Are You Shopping Online Safely?

Chances are you shop online. Studies show 79% of Americans shop online. Nearly 25% of online buying occurs between Nov. 1 and Dec 31. People who have traditionally shopped "Black Friday" deals are waiting to shop "Cyber Monday" deals at home. (Dec 2 this year!) I worked in retail for 15 years, so I would rather shop online than ever go into another store! It is convenient to shop online, but risks can outweigh the convenience if you do not shop safely! 

Beware of online Hazards

Hidden fees
Many retailers will claim free shipping, then tell you it is only after your spend a specific dollar amount.  Or they add in "extras" like the software to run the laptop. 
Counterfeit items
It is rather easy to put items for sale online now. Everyone is doing it! Just because you see it on the internet does not mean it is real. Remember if the price seems too good to be true- it probably is! Shop for specific brands on their own site.
Shipping issues
One time my sister in law ordered my niece's entire Christmas online and nothing showed up before Christmas! I ordered a laptop one time that just never came in. (after 3 phone calls they finally refunded my money!)
                                                          Identity theft (This is very common these days!)
Did you know if someone steals your debit card number, they can empty your bank account in record time? I have had people open credit cards in my name, take loans out in my name. These scams can be hard to fight (and prove!).
Fake reviews
If a site has all 5 Star reviews, be wary. No one has a perfect score when it comes to public opinion. Even the best of sites has upset some customer at some point. If it looks perfect- I would guess they are padding their reviews.   

What can you do to protect yourself and still shop from home? 

* Shop at websites you know and trust- check to see if it is a secure website. If it is secure the URL will begin with https, not http. (The "s" stands for secure!)
* Avoid using public wi-fi (identity theft!)
* Create strong passwords - many sites will tell you if your password is strong. Do not use obvious passwords like your birthday, your child's name or your pet's name. You might want to see if a Password Manager is something that would work for you.
* Beware of sites with deals that look too good to be true.
* Be wary of third party sites. 
* Pay by credit card online- not by debit card.
* Check out a company's social media to see if it is real, engaging and what customers have to say. (One of the perks of social media today)
* Research the company before you buy from it. Make sure it's real, and well respected by previous shoppers.
* Keep/print receipts. Pay attention to your statements. Verify all of the charges on a timely basis so you can dispute fraudulent charges quickly.

Shop smart- if you do not feel good about a site, move onto another site. Ask family and friends who may have ordered from a site you are looking at about their experience. Online shopping is convenient, until it's not. Be careful and pay attention to the possible risks!

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