SAFE INTERNET SHOPPING That certainly seems to be the question on everyones minds these days, and it should be. The Internet has opened up the world of products and services to all of us in ways we could not have imagined even 5 years ago. Today shopping on the Internet is commonplace. We shop online for convenience, because we hate the crowds at the mall and the rude sales people, gas prices are so high, there are no close shopping centers to where we live or simply we are unable to get out to do any shopping. The following contains a few things that might make you feel safer about shopping on the internet, what to look for when shopping and who to go to when you feel you have been wronged. You may also find this information under Is Internet Shopping Safe at www.allthatshopping.com HOW SECURE IS YOUR TRANSACTION? How do you tell if the Internet connections are secure? “Identity Theft” sometimes occurs when someone gets your credit card, bank account or social security number and buys goods or gets credit cards or loans in your name. Carefully guard personal information that might allow a thief to impersonate you or use your credit.
Industry has developed technology that can scramble sensitive information, such as your credit card number, so that only the merchant you are dealing with and your credit card issuer can read it. There are several ways to determine if you have that protection when you are sending payment information on the web. Look for the picture of the unbroken key or closed lock in your browser window. Either one indicates that the security is operative. A broken key or any open lock indicates it is not. Look to see if the web address on the page that asks for your credit card information begins with “https:” instead of “http.” Https indicates a security in operation page. Some web sites use the words “Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)” or a pop up box that says you are entering a secure area. These security protections do not work in e-mail. So, make sure you send personal and payment information in a secure web transaction. Would you rather give your credit card information over the phone? Many web merchants allow you to order online and give your credit card information over the phone. If you do this, make a note of the phone number, company, the date and time of your call, and the name of the person who recorded your credit card number.
Different passwords? Passwords are required at various stages of computer use and web shopping to help assure that someone is not misusing your computer or personal information. If you use a password to log on to your network or computer, use a different password for orders. Some web sites may require you to create a password for future orders. You may want to create a special password for particularly sensitive sites, such as your home banking site. Choose your password. The best passwords are not your address, birth date, phone number, recognizable words, or even your pet’s name (which might be guessed by someone who has other information about you.). Each website is different and may ask for a certain minimum number of letters, numbers and punctuation marks. An easy way to create a memorable password is to take the first letter of each word in an expression or song lyric, and add some numbers and punctuation marks. For example, “tmottobg!5” is derived from a line in “Take Me Out To The Old Ball Game.” Recording your password Don’t write down any password near your computer where someone could see it or carry it in your purse or billfold. If you do record it somewhere, reverse the order of the characters or transpose some letters or numbers. That way, someone finding it won’t have discovered your true password. Who wants to know your password or other identifying information? Be very careful about responding to an e-mail, phone call, fax, or letter from anyone who asks for your password(s), social security number, birth date, bank account, credit card number, mother’s maiden name, or other personal information. Sellers and financial institutions do not ask you for such information unless you are entering into a transaction with them.