Over the last several years, retailers report a 25-30 percent increase in online spending around the holidays. With more and more people heading to the Internet to complete their holiday shopping, Iowa’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has offered an advisory for online holiday shopping. Follow these common best practices when shopping online this holiday season.
- Buy from known and reputable companies’ websites. This tip can reduce your risk of buying into a scam and also reduce your risk of identity theft.
- Pay attention in the “checkout.” When you're in the “checkout,” make sure the payment processing is transmitted over a secure connection. Look for things such as "https” in the web browser.
- Watch out for overly amazing deals. Sometimes there is such a thing as a deal too good to be true.
- Take your time. Hot deals, which pop up and have a limited timeframe to respond, are not deals at all. They are scams that solicit an emotional response and often are infected with malware.
- Know how you're connected. Are you shopping at home on your secure network, or are you in the local coffee shop’s hot spot? Unsecured networks should be avoided when using credit cards.
- Watch your emails, text messages and pop-ups. Retailers are going to push deals, which can open you up for malware and phishing attempts. If the email doesn't look legitimate, don't even open it; trash it.
- Pay attention to the details. Retail websites will never request your PIN when paying with a debit card, and no website should request your Social Security number.
- Track your packages and watch for delivery. Knowing when your package is expected to arrive is an important step in online shopping. If your order doesn't show up or isn't delivered as detailed in your tracking confirmation, call the retailer.
- Watch your accounts and credit cards closely. If your online order was compromised or your card information was stolen, chances are it will be used quickly. At the first sign of an unknown charge, call the credit card company or your bank.