Iowa’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management offers the following advisory for online shopping.
Online Best Practices
Buy from known and reputable corporations’ websites. This tip can reduce your risk of buying into a scam and also reduce your risk of identity theft.
Pay attention in the “Checkout.” When you’re in the “checkout,” make sure the payment processing is transmitted over a secure connection. Look for things like “https” in the web browser, or, in newer versions of Internet Explorer, the website URL will turn green indicating a secure, known security certificate. A URL outlined in red indicates an unknown certificate or high risk website.
Watch out for overly amazing deals. Sometimes there is such a thing as a deal too good to be true.
Take your time. Hot deals, which pop up and have a timed response time, are not deals at all. They are scams that solicit an emotional response and often are infected with malware.
What are you connected to? Are you shopping at home on your secure network, or are you in the local coffee shop’s hot spot. Unsecure networks should be avoided when using credit cards.
Which card are you using? Remember debit cards are linked to your deposit accounts, hence direct access to your money. Credit cards add a layer of security between your money and the thieves.
Watch your emails, text messages, and pop-ups. Retailers are going to push deals, which can open you up for malware and phishing attempts. If the email doesn’t look legitimate, don’t even open it…trash it.
Pay attention to the details. Retail websites will never request your pin number when paying with a debit card and no website should request your social security number.
Track your packages and watch for delivery. Knowing when your package is expected to arrive is an important step in online shopping. If your order doesn’t show up, or isn’t delivered as detailed in your tracking confirmation, call the retailer.
Watch your accounts and credit cards more closely in the weeks around the holidays. If your online order was compromised or your card information was stolen, chances are it will be used quickly. At the first sign of an unknown charge, call the credit card company or your bank.