Online Shopping Tips


     Overview

The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) reminds consumers to protect their personal information, particularly during the holiday season when Americans flock to their computers to shop online.

"Even though the most common ID theft or account fraud comes from someone you know, online shoppers need to also be cautious about giving out personal information or leaving it where someone has access to it," said James P. Ghiglieri, Jr., ICBA chairman and president of Alpha Financial Group, Inc., Toluca, Ill. "By following some simple precautions, ICBA reminds consumers that they can have a better online shopping experience and not place their personal information in jeopardy.."

ICBA offers some tips to help consumers have a more secure Internet shopping experience:

  1. If you shop, bank or use credit cards online, avoid creating passwords that include easily accessed personal information, such as motherís maiden name or date of birth. Instead, use something unique that only you know.
     
  2. Don't give out personal information over the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you know who youíre dealing with and preferably only if you've initiated the contact. As a general rule, never give out your Social Security or driverís license numbers. If you must share personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization.
     
  3. Banks will not ask you to verify your personal account information over the phone or via email. They already have that on file. If you receive a phone call or email asking you to verify such information, don't respond. Instead, contact the bank directly.
     
  4. If you receive an e-mail asking for personal information, do not hit the reply button or click on any website link in the e-mail. Instead, go directly to the sender's website by typing in the sender's website address.
     
  5. Donít leave sensitive documents containing personal information where people can see it.
     
  6. Look for secure sites that feature https:// with the "s" in the URL as well as a closed padlock icon on the webpage.
     
  7. Always double check the URL to be sure you are shopping with the company you intended to shop with. Thatís especially important during the holiday rush when a simple typo could help out identity thieves.
     
  8. Know the company youíre dealing with. If you are doing business on a companyís website for the first time, do your homework. Consider checking out the Better Business Bureau website (www.bbb.org).
     
  9. Consumer protections under the federal Fair Credit Billing Act apply to Internet credit card purchases. Keep records of the purchase.
     
  10. Avoid providing superfluous information like annual income, spending habits, hobbies and lifestyle data.
     
  11. Shop with U.S.-based companies. Domestic state and federal consumer protection laws apply. Youíll be protected and have recourse should something go awry.
     
  12. Register your credit and debit cards at "www.verifiedbyvisa.com" and/or "mastercardsecurecode.com" for a more secure online shopping experience.

Learn more about preventing identity theft at the federal governmentís website www.idtheft.gov.