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Increase in Online Shopping Leads to Increased Need for Safe Shopping Tips

[Wednesday, January 6th, 2016]

There’s no doubt that the Internet has made it easier to get the things we need. Shopping online is convenient, fast, and easy. But with the popularity of online shopping, there’s an ever-present risk of credit card fraud and identity theft.

And shopping from your smartphone has its risks, too. A study recently found that people who bank and shop on mobile devices may be more susceptible to identity theft than those who do not. Identity theft victims who got in touch with the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) were more likely to have used mobile devices for banking and shopping this year than last.

Equifax is offering consumers a list of safe online shopping practices to keep people safe. “As online sales continue to rise, so will the threat of identity theft,” said Equifax senior vice president Assad Lazarus. “Consumers need to know how to protect themselves.”

Here are the Equifax tips for safe shopping online:

• Use multi-factor authentication, or two-step verification, for your online accounts. This may take a little longer to set up, but it can save you a lot of headaches later.

• Keep your machines clean. That is, keep your computers and mobile devices free of viruses and malware. Keep software up to date, including operating systems and other programs.

• Check out where you’re shopping before you make a purchase. Read reviews of online merchants and pay attention to whether others have had a positive experience with that particular retailer.

• Don’t click on that link. Suspicious links in emails, social media posts, and even texts may be attempts to steal your information or infect your electronic device. When in doubt, don’t click.

• Use a credit card to shop online. Credit cards, not debit or prepaid cards, are the safest way to pay online. They give you protection in case the product isn’t delivered as promised, differs from what you ordered, or is otherwise unsatisfactory. Even if your credit score isn’t stellar, chances are you can be approved for a credit card for folks with fair credit.

• Look for security certificates. Make sure you’re shopping on secure sites with encryption to keep your personal info safe. Web addresses starting with https:// indicate an extra layer of security.

Shopping online is usually very safe, as long as you use your head and follow simple, common sense rules. Be aware of where you’re surfing, know what you’re doing when you enter personal information, and keep an eye on your accounts in case of suspicious activity.

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