Online shopping: How to ensure your financial information is safe online

February 26th, 2015 Susan Koehn

Finally! Now, you can purchase a brand new TV, while watching your favorite TV show. If you notice you are almost out of pet food, you can order more vittles with your pet in your lap. When you get hungry, you can order food in 30 seconds, or less, without picking up your phone. You can do all of these things in the comfort of your own home.

Online shopping has its benefits. It’s fast, convenient, and saves you time. Plus, it can help you avoid the extra trips to the mall or big box store!

As easy as it is to shop online, you must be aware of the risks involved. To prevent your personal and financial information from being breached, we’ve outlined six ways to help you keep your financial data safe online.

  1. Before making a purchase, read the website’s privacy policy. The privacy policy on an unsafe website may contain loopholes. Make sure to read the privacy policy before entering any of your information, so you understand how your information will be used and stored with the company.
  2. Verify the company by testing the contact information and phone number given. If you are suspicious about the website, call the company before making the purchase. If the phone call is suspicious, don’t test your luck! Use your best judgment and a “gut check” when browsing online shopping sites. Trust your instincts on whether the site is safe or not.
  3. Pay attention to the information the company is asking for. A safe shopping site will never ask for personal information like your birth date or social security number.
  4. Make sure the website is “locked.” A safe website will have a “locked” padlock in the website URL. Do not trust URLs that do not have a locked padlock. You can also tell a website is safe if it uses https://.
  5. Keep a record of all completed transactions and confirmation emails. If online fraud were to happen, it’s vital that you have an accurate record of all communications with the company. Make sure to keep a close eye on your credit card statements throughout the month for unusual activity or questionable transaction descriptions.
  6. Do not make online purchases using unsecured or public Wi-Fi. At locations where anyone can log onto the Wi-Fi, the information stored on your laptop as well as any additional information you’ve entered is fair game for people looking to steal your information. This also includes paying bills or logging onto your online banking account. Along with a safe Wi-Fi connection, make sure your security software is up-to-date, which can help prevent online safety threats.

If you experience any violations of your online privacy, report it to your financial institution and the proper authorities, immediately. The tips offered here will help you keep your identity safe and avoid online purchasing fraud. Online shopping is a practical and timesaving tool. Use it wisely!

Susan Koehn

About the author

Susan Koehn is an Assistant Retail Manager at MidWestOne Bank.

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