Shopping Online & E-curity

The Quill Pen Pal

With holiday gift-giving fast approaching, shopping online offers you something that traditional brick and mortar stores can’t—shopping seven days a week, 24 hours a day! Keep in mind the following tips to help ensure that your online holiday shopping experience is a safe and Grinchless one.

Use a secure browser to navigate online. Secure browsers like Secure Sockets Layer (SSLl or Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) both comply with industry security standards. These standards encrypt or scramble the purchase information you send over the Internet, ensuring the security of your transaction.

Shop with companies you know. If you're not familiar with a merchant, ask for a paper catalog or brochure to get a better idea of their merchandise and services. Also, determine the company’s refund and return policies before you place your order.

Keep your password(s) private. Be creative when you establish a password, and never give it to anyone. Avoid using a telephone number, birth date, or a portion of your Social Security number. Instead, use a combination of numbers, letters and symbols.

Pay by credit card. Your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act Under this law, consumers have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor is investigating them. In the case of unauthorized use of a consumer's credit card, they’re generally held liable only for the first $50 in charges.

Keep a record. Be sure to print a copy of your purchase order and confirmation number for your records. Also, you should know that the Federal Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule covers orders made online. This means that unless stated otherwise, merchandise must be delivered within 30 days, and if there are delays, the company must notify you.

Research sites before paying your bills online. Before you sign up for any service, evaluate how the company is securing your financial and personal information. Many companies explain their security procedures on their website. If you don't see a security description, contact the company and ask!

Keep your personal information private. Don't disclose personal information—such as your address, telephone number, Social Security number or e-mail address—unless you know who's collecting the information, why they're collecting it and how they'll use it.

Look for a company's online privacy policy. Companies are supposed to post their privacy policies on their website. A company's privacy policy should disclose what information is being collected on their site and how that information is being used. Before you provide a company with personal information, check its privacy policy. If you can't find a policy, contact them for information and request that it be posted on the site.

Remember, by applying these helpful hints during your holiday and year-round shopping. You'll be sure to be a safe and satisfied shopper.

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