Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Importance of a Good (Consumer) Education

Vicki Salemi posted an article on about shopping securely online. Educating consumers about safe online behavior is extremely important, and Vicki is certainly doing her part.

The article highlights ecommerce safety tips I shared with Vicki this summer. These tips are even more important as we head towards the holidays, so I'll recap them briefly here:

  • It is best to shop on "name brand" websites that are well-known and have a distinctive look and feel. Unfamiliar websites that look cheap and poorly designed are not a wise place to spend money, even if they have eye-popping prices.

  • Check the address bar in the browser when you are ready to buy, reading from left to right, and be sure it starts with "https://" followed by the name of the website and ".com".

  • It is best to type the name of your favorite shopping website into the browser to get started. Clicking on links in emails is a risky way to start an online shopping excursion, since the links may be fake.

  • Don't forget to log out when you have made your purchases. If you remain logged in and then go browsing other sites, it is possible for malware to use that login in surprising ways.

  • Don't make purchases on public computers. Do you use public computers in libraries or other places? Don't enter your credit card or other information into computers that aren't yours. They may have information-stealing software that can give your credit card number to the bad guys.

  • Pay attention to what your anti-virus program is telling you. If it says it needs an update, get the update. If it says it expired, renew it.

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