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Get online deals without becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud

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Posted at 4:20 PM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 04:19:46-05

Online shopping is a simple way to get through your holiday gift list, but you'll want to focus more on protecting your personal information than getting the best price.

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It's the most wonderful time of the year for online shopping deals, but it's also a riskier time of year to shop online. Identify theft and fraud are top of mind for many online shoppers, but there are ways to scout out the scams.

First, check the URL of the website you're shopping on. Does it have an https:// address?

"Which means the information you're going to transmit to the merchant's website is encrypted," said Art Forster, Director of Investigations at the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Florida.

Forster says there should be a little padlock next to the URL so you know it's a secure site.

Next, does the website have contact information that includes a physical address? Most will have a phone number and e-mail address or online form you can fill out. Forster says that doesn't mean the site is not legitimate, but it could require some more research.

You can look up where a website host is registered by going to whois.net. If the website is registered outside of the country, be aware that if anything goes wrong with your order, U.S. consumer protection laws will not apply.

Last, how do you plan to pay?

"If it lets me use Paypal, then I know it's okay cause I don't have to give them my direct information," said Maddie McCarty.

Third party payment processors can be a safer alternative, but before you pay for that deal. pause and read.

"Look at their terms of their conditions on the sale of the product," added Forster.

More advice from the BBB:

 - Look up reviews of the website you're using.

 - Don't submit more information than you have to. There's no reason why an online shopping site needs your birthday or social security number.

 - If the deal sounds too good to be true, research. And always monitor your bank and credit card statements.