One of the best ways you can protect yourself from fraud and other online cyber threats is to know who you are doing business with. While many websites and emails are designed to look professional and secure, there are often telltale signs that can help you identify ones you want to avoid. 

What to Avoid

  1. Don’t ever respond to pressure to buy. The internet has no opening or closing time, shop at your leisure and only buy when you are sure it’s safe;
  2. Don’t provide personal or payment information when requested through email, telephone or text message;
  3. Avoid "get rich quick" schemes.

What to Do

  1. If you have any doubt about a company, check around to make sure the company is legitimate. Checking independent company reviews via your favorite search engine is always a good idea too.
  2. Check to ensure websites have a posted privacy policy you are comfortable with;
  3. Check refund and return policies before you buy;
  4. Protect your personal information, never give out your user name or password and make sure you use different passwords for each site you go to. For example, when you create a password for your financial institution, don’t use that password for any other site;
  5. Only provide credit card information and personal information on a secured site. Look for the https:// in the URL address bar. Check the URL as you go to each new page to ensure you are still on the site you intended, and that it’s secure- especially if you’re providing sensitive information. 

Quick Checklist

To help you shop safely online, take the following common sense steps:

  • Don’t rely on a professional looking website as proof of a company’s quality or good reputation;
  • Investigate a company or seller before you buy;
  • Find out where a company is physically located to help avoid overseas or offshore scams;
  • Never give out your bank account number, credit card number, or personal information unless you’re certain a company is legitimate;
  • Pay for your purchases by credit or charge card for better protection;
  • Start with a small, inexpensive purchase to see how the company handles your order;
  • Find out about a company’s return and refund policies before you purchase;
  • Always use a secure internet browser that encrypts or scrambles your personal or financial information.