Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Roberts made big news recently by admitting he recently had his credit card information stolen. There was already a renewed interest in identity theft due to huge increases in victimization. Justice Roberts simply showed that it can happen to anyone. Although the details were unclear about Justice Robert’s case, a large number of these credit card problems are traced back to online shopping.
Knowing how to recognize and identify the warning signs is important. Here are some important tips to help determine when a website is safe or not:
Understand that being well-known is good but not fool proof
Certainly it is a good sign when you are dealing with a large market retailer, but you can’t automatically assume it is safe. If you were a criminal, which names would you pick for your fake website? Criminals like using the big name sites and then building fake sites to get your information. Don’t assume it is safe just because it is a big name.
Make sure your phone call will go somewhere
Shoot for sites that have physical addresses and contact information that leads you to humans. Phone numbers that are disconnected and addresses that lead to nowhere are bad news. Take the time to actually go and check out the information.
Look for the S in “https”
It is common for a larger business to take the time to put their customers at ease by using SSL protocol. If they have it, you will notice an “S” on the end of “http” in the web address. Without it, you simply don’t know.
Look in the browser for the padlock
A locked padlock in the browser is a good sign that the site is safe as well. Although the padlock can be found in other places, look for it in particular in the browser. It is easier to fake in other areas of the screen by scammers.
Utilize the Better Business Bureau Online
If you have your doubts, then take a moment to find out the website’s history and the company information on file with the BBC. There is a good chance that if they have been scamming the BBC will know about it. It only takes a few minutes so invest that time.
Remember the old “too good to be true”
Although great deals can be awfully enticing, they can also be scams in disguise. If you see a deal that seems way better than it should be, then it likely is. Go through every step above before even considering going through with the deal. If you still feel funny about it, listen to your gut.
Staying safe and keeping your information secure is really about doing due diligence. If you pay attention to what you are doing and follow these basic checks, you can feel reasonably comfortable that you are surfing safely while shopping.