Avoid Fraud While Shopping Online
Each year we see headlines about businesses closing their brick-and-mortar stores as people turn to online retailers for their purchases. If you think about it, you probably have your debit or credit card linked to at least a half dozen websites for easy ordering. With this rise of online shopping comes an increased risk of fraud by sharing your personal financial information. You probably think you know how to spot a scam and protect yourself, but do you really? We have a few essential tips that every online shopper needs to know.
Verify the site you’re browsing
If you type in a site’s web address, ensure that you spelled it correctly. Sometimes scammers set up a web domain with a couple of letters out of order in hopes that you’ll type wrong. Their site may mirror the intended website, but discrepancies will be noticeable if you pay attention.
You should also check to make sure that the web address begins with HTTPS and not just HTTP. The “S” on the end stands for “secure” and means that your data – including credit card information – will be encrypted for an added layer of security.
Double-check bank statements
Once you’ve placed your order online, the sale doesn’t end there. It is important to log in to your online banking account and check to make sure the correct amount came out of your account. You’ll also want to ensure that there was only one charge. If for some reason your purchase was split up into multiple charges, make sure they add up to the correct total.
But don’t stop there. When you get your bank statement at the end of the month – either via the mail or as an electronic document – check to make sure that the charges look correct. For example, you may log in to verify the charge on the same day as the transaction.
If everything looks OK, you’ve already checked this purchase off in your mind as being OK. But what if a duplicate charge posts two days later? You may miss it! So to be safe, take a quick look at your bank statement to ensure the entire month’s transactions appear to be correct.
Beware of free trials
Monthly subscription services are becoming increasingly popular. From toys to beauty products to fitness tools, almost anything you can think of has been turned into a monthly subscription. If your shopping around for a subscription that fits your needs, you may be tempted by “free trials” offered by companies – but beware! Often the fine print includes commitments that you agree to by accepting a free trial of their product or service. While some may allow you to call and cancel within a specified period, others may require that you subscribe for a few months before you can cancel your membership.
You’re saving time and money by shopping online instead of driving to the store. Don’t let the convenience of online shopping turn into a hassle because of fraud. Take a few extra minutes to review your purchases, double-check charges, and read the fine print on agreements before clicking submit.