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The Journal Gazette

Friday, December 21, 2018 1:00 am

Shopping safety begins with online purchases

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

So, I hope that by now everyone is on the lookout for porch pirates – the bums who steal deliveries from people's porches.

If you're not home during the day, it's a good idea to have a neighbor look out for your place, get packages delivered to you at work or buy one of those doorbells that record video of anyone hanging around your porch.

Let's back up a little, though. Online shopping safety really starts before you place the order.

Online fraud increased by 22 percent during last year's holiday shopping season, according to a firm that provides virtual private networks. The company has offered some tips to consumers for protecting yourself this holiday season.

They include:

* Go directly to the retailer's website yourself. A link that appears in an unsolicited email might direct you to a look-alike site designed to fool people into divulging personal information to scammers.

* Take the time to create a strong and unique log-in for your account with each website.

* When you're preparing to enter payment information, make sure the payment page's address begins with https. That's a signal that the page has a secure protocol and your data are protected with encryption. 

* Pay for purchases with a credit card, not a debit card. Most credit cards won't charge you if you fight the charges because you were overbilled, didn't receive the item or have another issue with the seller. A debit card, meanwhile, immediately subtracts the payment amount from your account.

* Avoid using public computers to make your purchases. Your personal financial information can also be stolen if you're using your own device but have connected to a public Wi-Fi network.

* If you're scammed, report it to the police, the Better Business Bureau or other officials. You might not get your money back, but you might provide the information officials need to find and shut down the operation.

Unfortunately, online crooks keep upping their game, so consumers have to do their part to keep up with the latest scams.

Shop safely out there!