Shop Online. Shop Smart.

Online shopping is convenient but consumers must be careful with their information to avoid fraud.

Online shopping is convenient but consumers must be careful with their information to avoid fraud.

Online shopping offers good bargains, a wide selection and fast shipping. Shopping has never been more convenient for consumers. However, there are also terrifying stories of identity theft and security breaches that occur online. All of the scary statistics about online fraud should not keep you from shopping online though. You just need some common sense and good advice. That’s why FSSB is here! Here are some tips for staying safe online.

Look For The Lock – NEVER use your debit or credit card to buy anything from a website that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You can tell if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// instead of just HTTP://. A locked padlock icon will also appear in the status bar or address window of your web browser. Also, never give anyone your credit card over email.

Use Familiar Sites – Start your shopping with a trusted site rather than shopping through a search engine that can be easily rigged. If you know the site and have used it before, the chances are less likely that it is a rip off. Almost every major retailer has an online store and carries every product under the sun. Stick to these reputable sites for complete security.

Check Your Statements – Don’t wait until the end of the month when your bill comes. Check your credit card, debit card, and checking account statements online regularly during the holiday season. FSSB offers Online Banking that allows you to view transactions in your account history.

Privatize Your Wi-Fi  – If you are using a laptop or mobile device, only use the wireless internet if you access the Web over a virtual private network (VPN) connection. This is also not a good time to try out a hotspot that you aren’t familiar with. Stick to the networks you already know. Free Wi-Fi access is available at libraries, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble stores, McDonalds, Panera Bread and many more, but they don’t generally have high levels of security associated with them.

If you plan to shop online this holiday season, use your head. Don’t fall for deals that seem too good to be true. Keep your guard up and be wise with who you give any information to.