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Smart Shopper

January 3, 2023 | Article | 4 min | Personal Insights

Keep your money safe with these online shopping security tips

The 2022 holiday gift season is now in the rear-view mirror. If you’re like many other people, chances are you did a good amount of shopping online. After all, online shopping can be easy and fun. But unfortunately, there are many scammers who want to steal your identity and money.

According to a January 2022 Federal Trade Commission report, more than 95,000 people reported about $770 million in losses to fraud initiated on social media platforms in 2021 (the most recent data available). Reports were up for every age group, but people 18 to 39 were more than twice as likely as older adults to report losing money to these scams.

It's a new year and full of opportunities to learn and grow. Review the following information for tips on ways you can protect your personal information and finances when shopping online this year.

Verify the Website

Only shop on secure websites with good reputations. Check for the small, locked padlock icon in the address bar. The address should start with https://. In addition, check the spelling of the URL. Scammers use similar spellings to fool you into thinking that you are on the true retail company’s website. You’ll also want to perform an online search of the seller. Use the seller’s name and the word “scam” to vet them before sending any money.

Trust Your Instincts

Beware of deals that seem too good to be true. In addition, be vigilant when websites or social media ads link to an unfamiliar website. Look for typos and missing contact information. Other red flags are poorly written or missing sections such as About Us, Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. If something just doesn’t feel write, click off the site.

Manage Risk

Don’t shop online using a public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi is not secure and increases your chance of being hacked. In addition, use a credit card. That way, if you get scammed, you can dispute the charges.

You should also consider checking out as a guest if possible. That way, your data won’t be retained by the company.

Always report scams right away to your bank and the Federal Trade Commission. For information on how to report fraud, go to: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/.

Heartland Retirement Plan Services are offered through Dubuque Bank and Trust Company. The information provided herein is general in nature and is not intended to be nor should be construed as specific investment, legal or tax advice. The factual information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness. Heartland Retirement Plan Services makes no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use and disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or reliance on, it. Products offered through Heartland Retirement Plan Services are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed and may lose value, unless otherwise noted.