With ‘Cyber Monday’ grossing more than $1 billion in sales this year, it’s a fair assumption that the number of people who are using the internet to do their shopping will continue to increase well into 2013. Not only is shopping online convenient but consumers now have the power to save large sums of money on a wider range of different products available across the world.

Late night
Eden Politte via Compfight

However, it’s not widely known that there will be some risk present when making purchases online. Computer-savvy criminals are now using the power of the Internet to their advantage to scam consumers who are simply trying to spend their hard earned cash. Fortunately not all internet shoppers will fall victim to these fraudsters, but some will.

Before you pull up those e-commerce shops and enter your credit card information, consider these tips to help stay safe when shopping online.

Check Your Computer Before and After a Transaction

The last thing you want is to enter your credit card information when an intruder is lurking somewhere in your system. To ensure your confidential information stays private, make sure that your anti-virus software is up-to-date and you are using the latest operating system. Your software will have a personal firewall that will make your actions invisible to would-be intruders while you are surfing the web. After you are done with your transactions, make sure you log out of the shopping cart and the operating system as well.

Verify that Company is ‘Really’ a Company

There is nothing worse than ordering a product, waiting for the product to arrive, and finding out that the payment you made was to someone posing as a legitimate company. Take time to research any company you plan on buying from before you submit your payment information to avoid falling for this scheme. When you are reviewing the site, verify that the shop has a physical address, a landline phone, and make sure to jot this information down. If you are shopping from companies located overseas, make sure to check the company through consumer bureaus. The best practice is to buy from a company you are familiar with to prevent any unnecessary problems.

Make Sure the Website is Secure

All reputable e-commerce sites take security precautions to protect their consumers. In addition to checking your anti-virus software, you should also verify that the company you are buying from has a secure website. Your browser should display a padlock in the bottom corner of the site and the http should be followed by an ‘s‘, meaning it is secure. Be careful when you are creating your passwords and never use the same password with every e-commerce shop.

Fraudsters will do almost anything to convince you to submit your payment information online. This is why you need to be informed and prepared before that perfect gift you buy becomes a huge headache. Avoid having to call a fraud or crime lawyer to file a fraud claim and remember to use credit cards that offer protection each and every time you order anything online.

Jonathan Gordon is a freelance copywriter who writes for a variety of websites, including a number of specialist personal injury solicitors.

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