8 tips to help you safely surf, shop online this holiday season

8 tips to help you safely surf, shop online this holiday season

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - With more people going online in search of holiday bargains, instead of the Grinch hackers could steal your Christmas.

Wipro Digital found 61 percent of Americans reported doing more than half their 2014 holiday shopping online, according to a news release from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

The trend is expected to continue in 2015.

"Shoppers must be cautious when making these purchases to protect financial information," Rutledge said. "Hackers are always looking for new ways to gain access to credit card numbers and online user information."

Rutledge offers the following tips to keep you safe while shopping online:

  1. Use a secure browser—software that encrypts or scrambles the purchase information you send over the Internet — to help guard the security of your information as it is transmitted to a website. Be sure your browser has the most up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available from the manufacturer.
  2. Check the site’s privacy policy before providing any personal financial information and determine how the information will be used or shared with others. Also check the site’s statements about the security provided for your information. Some websites’ disclosures are easier to find than others — look at the bottom of the home page, on order forms or in the “About” or “FAQs” sections of a site.
  3. Read and understand the refund and shipping policies before you make your purchase.
  4. Pay by credit card, which is the most secure payment method. Under federal law, charges can be disputed. Many credit card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the purchaser pays nothing if their credit card is stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases.
  5. Keep personal information private. Do not disclose personal information – address, telephone number, Social Security number, bank account number or email address – unless you know who is collecting the information, why they are collecting it and how they will use it.
  6. Be cautious when buying gifts from an online auction. Understand how the auction works and check out the seller’s reputation before bidding. Always ask about terms of delivery and return options. Never wire money for the purchase; use some other form of payment.
  7. Keep records of online transactions and check for emails from merchants while doing business. Merchants may send important information about purchases.
  8. Review monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases promptly and thoroughly. Notify the credit or debit card issuer immediately if a card or checkbook is lost or stolen or if you suspect someone is using your accounts without your permission.

Rutledge also encourages consumers to do thorough research on companies and products before finalizing each online purchase.

For more information on identity theft, ways to protect your money, and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, call the AG's office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

Copyright 2015 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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