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How To Protect Identity Theft When Shopping Online

By Janet Lacey
Published: Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Shopping online has a number of advantages over traditional brick and mortar shopping. It is quick, convenient and comfortable. But a major disadvantage that often discourages people from shopping online is identity theft. However, as an informed and wary consumer, you can always protect your identity and personal information while shopping online. Here’s how:

  • Always Shop Through A Secure Server: The first thing that you need to check when shopping online is that the portal you are on has an https address instead of just http. The s stands for secure and is a must for all portals where you shop. Other things that make the site even more secure is the sign of a small yellow padlock at the bottom of your browser window and a security warning pop up box at the point of purchase.
  • Shop With Known Sites: Almost anyone can set up a store on the internet. It is not uncommon to find sites that have only been hosted for the purpose of fraud or identity theft. Before you fill up any forms on a website, check its reviews or Google it to check for any complaints. You can also check for Better Business Bureau listings on the site http://www.bbb.org.
  • Check the Site’s Policies: Before you submit all your information to the site you are shopping at, make sure that you read its privacy policy. The site should guarantee that your personal information should not be disclosed or sold to any other party. In case you are shopping at a reputable site, at least make sure that the information will not be misused in a way that you are not comfortable with.
  • Use A Safe Browser: Do not just shop on a browser that you downloaded free online yesterday. Shop only on a browser that that complies with industry security standards like SSL( most of them do). Check that your browser’s security is optimized and the firewalls are in place before making an online purchase.
  • Delete Cookies After Purchase: Many websites leave cookies on your computer that may help out in fishing sensitive information like your email address or your usernames on different sites. Deleting browser cookies after making your purchase or visiting doubtful sites is a good safety practice.
  • Only Fill In Required Information: Most sites that you deal with nowadays will make you fill up pages of forms before you get to the checkout portal. Avoid giving out any information that is not essential for the purchase. Also, do not give out your social security number, your date of birth or any other personal information that you deem is not essential for the purchase. If a site makes this information essential, buy your goods somewhere else.
  • Use Only A Single Card: Designate only one credit or debit card to be used for all online transactions. This will help limit the damage in case your information somehow gets hacked. It will also help you keep a track of all your transactions easily, which will keep you on top of things. Having a card that is covered for online shopping fraud or online purchase protection is a savvy bet if you shop online a lot.

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