Tips for Safe Spending on the Internet
As use of the Internet continues to expand, more banks and stores are using the Web to offer products and services or otherwise enhance communications with consumers.
The Internet offers the potential for safe, convenient new ways to shop, any day, any time. However, safe online spending involves making good choices — decisions that will help you avoid costly surprises or even scams.
We offer information and tips to help you if you are thinking about or already spending online. We will tell you how to:
- Keep your personal information private and secure
- Understand your rights as a consumer
- Learn where to go for more assistance from your bank.
Confirm that a Website is Legitimate
Whether you shopping online or paying your credit card bill, it is wise to make sure that it is legitimate. Here are tips specifically designed for consumers considering shopping on the Internet:
READ KEY INFORMATION ABOUT THE BUSINESS POSTED ON ITS WEBSITE.
Most websites have an “About Us” section or something similar that describes the institution. You may find a brief history of the business, the official name and address of the business' headquarters and information about its partners.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FRAUDULENT WEBSITES.
For example, watch out for copycat websites that deliberately use a name or web address very similar to, but not the same as, that of a legitimate website. The intent is to lure you into clicking onto their website and giving your personal information, such as your account number and password. Always check to see that you have typed the correct website address before conducting a transaction.
Help Keep Your Transaction Secure
The Internet is a public network. Therefore, it is important to learn how to safeguard your banking information, credit card numbers, Social Security Number and other personal data.
Learn about and take advantage of security features. Some examples are:
- Encryption is the process of scrambling private information to prevent unauthorized access. To show that your transmission is encrypted, some browsers display a small icon on your screen that looks like a lock or a key whenever you conduct secure transactions online. Avoid sending sensitive information, such as account numbers, through unsecured email.
- Passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs) should be used when accessing an account online. Your password should be unique to you and you should change it regularly. Do not use birthdates or other numbers or words that may be easy for others to guess. Always carefully control to whom you give your password. For example, if you use a financial company that requires your passwords in order to gather your financial data from various sources, make sure you learn about the company’s privacy and security practices.
- General security over your personal computer such as virus protection and physical access controls should be used and updated regularly. Contact your hardware and software suppliers or Internet service provider to ensure you have the latest in security updates.
If you have a security concern about your online accounts, contact your bank to discuss possible problems and remedies.