Be wary of deals that are too good to be true, and other tips for shopping safe online.
Be wary of deals that are too good to be true, and other tips for shopping safe online.

We uncover ways to protect your identity and personal information online, particularly when shopping and using apps.

When it comes to Internet shopping, you have to be prudent – it’s not like paying cash for an item purchased in-store, where none of your personal information is revealed. But while identity theft is a risk of online shopping, the risk can be minimized as long as you take steps to protect yourself. Here are six ways to avoid identity theft and make the most of your online shopping experience.

1. Know the Deals If you see a deal for 90% off a manufacturer’s suggested retail price, it might be a scam. Before making a purchase, even from deal of the day sites like Groupon, cross-check the price on Amazon or eBay to see if there’s something fishy going on. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This step might not protect your identity, but it will safeguard your bank account, preventing you from purchasing an item you might never receive.

2. Update Your Antivirus Software Always make sure your antivirus software remains updated. If you’re searching for new antivirus protection, consider Avast or Avira. They’re both free and offer solid protection.

3. Learn About Website Security Protocols Before making a purchase, look for a green padlock to the left of the URL in the address bar. The URL should also start with with “https,” not just “http.” The extra “s” indicates a secure server. Other protocols to keep an eye out for are a Norton Secured icon, or one from TRUSTe. And, if there’s no telephone number or physical address for the business, you might want to shop elsewhere.

4. Never Give Your Social Security Number The only time you should provide your social security number online is if you’re applying for a job or a new line of credit. In all other cases, keep your SSN to yourself.

5. Research Questionable Websites Use the website Reseller Ratings, or research retailers through the Better Business Bureau if you think something looks suspicious. If you notice anything untoward, such as negative reviews or complaints, stay away. You can also use the Ripoff Report website to gain relevant information.

6. Check Credit Card Balances & Transactions Your liability is limited to $50 on fraudulent credit card purchases, but if you make a purchase with a debit card, it could be a lot more. Check your credit and debit card accounts regularly (especially after you’ve made purchases), to keep an eye out for any sneaky transactions.

Common sense is critical when making online purchases, but even the more careful individual can get played. Be vigilant and use your head – it’s possible to enjoy the financial savings and experience of shopping online without undergoing the hassle of recovering after an identity theft. How do you protect yourself when shopping online?

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