Safe and Secure Cyber Monday Shopping Tips
A week from today, shoppers will go online hoping to take advantage of Cyber Monday deals for their friends, family and themselves. But consumer protection law specialists at the American Bar Association say shoppers should be careful because their personal information may not be adequately protected or the website they are purchasing from may not be trustworthy. The ABA’s Business Law Section has created Safeshopping.org, a website that provides helpful tips on ways to protect privacy and guard against cyberthreats.
“This is the time of year when eager buyers let their guard down, make online purchases that seem too good to be true and usually are, give out too much personal information or fail to check out the reputation of the seller,” said James P. Nehf, co-chair of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee of the Cyberspace Committee of the ABA Business Law Section and professor of law at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
Retailers anticipate a 12 percent increase in online sales during the 2012 holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation. The Safeshopping.org website covers a range of topics including how to create effective passwords, make safe payments online and over the telephone, and prevent identity theft.
“The ABA hopes that by providing these tips, it can help shoppers at the holidays and throughout the year to enjoy the convenience of online shopping,” Nehf said.
Consumers should be sure to use a different password for each website, according to SafeShopping.org. Passwords should contain a mix of at least five letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Be sure to avoid obvious combinations such as names and birthday, and sites that request highly personal information such as bank account or Social Security numbers.
When making payments online, purchasing goods with a credit card is safer than paying by check, cash, debit card, money order or other forms of payment. Under federal law, if a person has an unauthorized charge on his or her credit card, liability is limited to $50. And some website operators and credit card issuers — including Visa and MasterCard — promise that under certain circumstances they will pay this amount for the cardholder.
In addition, Cyber Monday shoppers should know the difference between a secure and unsecure website. A website is considered secure if it has an unbroken key or closed lock in the browser window. Alternatively, if there is a broken key or open lock, the site is not secure.
Before entering credit card information online, it is important to verify that the web address begins with “https” instead of “http.” According to SafeShopping.org the “s” signifies that the site is secure.
Consumers should also look for the words “Secure Sockets Layer” or a pop-up box indicating that they are entering a secure area.
For people who plan to make payments over the phone, it is important to collect the name and work identification number of the representative, the phone number called, the time of the conversation and the name of the company.
For more tips go to www.safeshopping.org.