Seven tips to keep your money safe when shopping online

Shopping online: Is it safe?

Websites should start with shttp/https where the ā€œSā€ is for secure. Websites also often have a padlock in the URL bar indicating it is a secure site.

Websites should start with shttp/https where the ā€œSā€ is for secure. Websites also often have a padlock in the URL bar indicating it is a secure site.

Holiday shopping is in full swing. According to a study conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average person will spend around $800 when celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza this year. Additionally, NRF states that approximately 44 percent of shoppers will shop online for gifts. Creating a holiday spending plan will help shoppers stay on budget during the holidays. However, when it comes to shopping online, it is important to be cautious; holiday scams are already making headway this season. It is important for consumers to shop at trusted sites.

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) offers the following tips to help consumers stay protected when shopping online:

  • Research unfamiliar sellers – if you are anticipating buying from a company you have not heard of or conducted business with, check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if they have any complaints. You may also want to consider trying to find the item with a well-known company.
  • Pay with a safe method – although it is important to watch credit card spending during the holidays, credit card companies usually offer buyer protection. Services such as PayPal may offer buyer protection as well; research your options.
  • Make sure your browser is secure – websites should start with shttp/https where the “S” is for secure. Websites also often have a padlock in the URL bar indicating it is a secure site.
  • Do not use a money transfer service (i.e. Western Union) – legitimate retailers will not ask you to use a money transfer service to purchase goods or services.
  • Be careful of “phishing” and “smishing” - scammers will imitate companies by sending emails and/or text messages (“phishing” if it is an email or “smishing” if it comes as a text message) requesting consumers confirm information such as account numbers.
  • Keep records of your purchases.
  • Watch CFA’s Buyer Beware video for more information.

If you have not created your holiday spending plan, you still have time. Check out Are you in control of holiday spending? Look for more great money management information at Michigan State University Extension and MI Money Health.

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