The Internet offers many wonderful conveniences giving us the opportunity to buy products and services often not available locally, but that can be easily found anywhere in the country or even around the world.
However, it's important to remember to protect your identity, your bank account, and your debit or credit card numbers when shopping online.
- Know who you are dealing with — only buy from companies that you know or whose reputation you can verify.
- Only use secure websites — Secure websites begin with "https" ( the "s" stands for "secure"). You should see a padlock in the status bar or address bar if the site is secure.
- Look for privacy information as well as the company's policy on returning merchandise that doesn't meet your expectations.
- Beware of any claims or offers that sound too good to be true.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall on your personal computer, and update them regularly. These can be easily purchased from a retail store or online — they're even available for free.
- Review your monthly bank statements for any errors or unauthorized Internet purchases promptly. Notify us if you suspect someone is using your accounts without your permission.
Visit the Federal Trade Commission's website for valuable information for safely shopping online as well as other consumer protection information.