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Some of the areas of concern when online shopping are paying for an item that isn’t received or can’t be return, having payment information stolen, and having personal information stolen. There are several layers to be aware of to ensure safety. To get started, here is what you should know about online shopping security.

Website Safety

First, use websites that are known to be safe. The URL for a website is displayed at the top of the browser window and looks something like this:
https://www.sdmfoundation.net/blog/ (sometimes not all of this is visible, it may only show sdmfoundation.net)

Many people are aware of the safety of using the web protocol https://, which may show up on a browser as a lock symbol next to the URL web address of the page. This ensures that only the user and the owner of the web page being used will be able to understand the information entered. If using a modern browser, then this part is built in and un-secure websites cannot be visited.

One doesn’t have to be worried that an outside person will be able to see what is typed, but one still needs to be sure that the website they are typing it into is a legitimate source. For more detailed information about the security of a website, see this article from SiteLock.

Reading a URL

The next section of the URL is very important – each position/part of the URL is separated by a period.  The first position is often www but doesn’t need to be. In fact, there may be several positions here, but it doesn’t really matter. The last two positions before the / are the domain e.g. sdmfoundation.net.

This part will tell you what website you are on. Amazon.com, Amazon.co and Amazonn.com are three completely different websites. The first one is real, the others are fake. The fake ones can have webpages that are made to look just like the real one, so read the URL. What comes after the / varies with each website, e.g using our SDM example above it’s /blog. This is controlled by the domain owner and generally indicates the type of content to be found on that page.

Reading reviews

There are many sites that provide reviews of companies that sell online. These are useful to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable company that will be likely to handle any issues that may arise. If purchasing through Amazon, Ebay or Etsy for example, one can find reviews of the sellers that might give some confidence. Yelp is another source of customer reviews, but be sure to read closely and be certain that the reviews are true, and not too old.

Paying Online

The final piece of security is about payment information. If concerned about giving credit card information to a company, then use a third party payor, such as Paypal. In this case, only PayPal has the credit card or bank information, and Paypal will process the payment to the company. It is also important to remember that using a credit card instead of a debit card provides additional protections from the banks.

In all of these cases, when purchasing online, be careful to keep the details of when/where/how/how much. Take pictures of the screen to keep track of the information provided and what was ordered. Also retain all emails from the company. With records of what is expected and what happened, it will be easier to have issues resolved.

Here are some tips about online shopping from the security company, Norton.

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