Staying safe as you shop online

November 13, 2005|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Shopping on the Internet means no waiting in line at the mall or department stores, a wide selection of stores and a variety of delivery options.

But before you reach for your credit card to buy from your favorite store's Web site, or bid on items at an online auction, make sure you're keeping your financial information as safe as possible.

Here are some tips for shopping online while keeping your banking information safe from scammers:

Buy through secure Web sites only. When you buy something online or try to sign in to view your credit or bank accounts, your browser frame should have a small lock symbol near the bottom right-hand corner. This means the site scrambles your purchase information before sending it over the Internet.

Put your online purchases on a single credit card to limit the damage if your credit card information is stolen.

Stick to stores you know. The Federal Trade Commission recommends thoroughly checking out any little-known company before making an online purchase. Call the company to ask for a paper catalog or brochure.

Never e-mail financial information. Reputable retailers will never ask that you e-mail your credit card number or other financial information.

Pay for online auctions through a reliable third source. Never give the seller your financial information.

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