Online Shopping: How to Protect Your Data

Could the tradition of packed shopping malls on Christmas Eve soon fall by the wayside?  If 2010’s online sales are any indication, that could well be the case.  This year’s Cyber Monday sales broke the $1 billion mark, driving up sales 16 percent higher than 2009 sales, and making it the biggest online shopping day in history.  Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend sales enjoyed a similar increase, with one in three people taking advantage of online discounts.  One thing is clear: Online shopping is gaining in popularity as more people do their holiday shopping in the comfort of their fuzzy slippers.  Shoppers are spending more money online at their choice of merchants, large and small.

Unfortunately, where the money goes, so goes criminal activity.  Thieves would love to get their hands on your credit card information—whether by posing as a legitimate business or by intercepting transferred financial data.  You can prevent yourself from becoming a victim!  Hornberger & Brewer shares some ways to protect yourself (and your credit card) while shopping online this holiday season.

1. Make sure the merchant is reputable.

Sometimes small merchants’ deals seem too good to be true.  This is where a little research goes a long way to determining their reputability.  Sites like Epinions and BizRate share evaluations from other customers.  Their experiences can help you determine a merchant’s credibility.  Also look for third-party seals of approval on the merchant’s website, such as from the Better Business Bureau or TRUSTe.

2. Look for a secure checkout process.

You’ll know when this happens because a little padlock appears at the bottom of your browser or a message pops up about entering a secure website.  Secure checkout means your credit card information is encrypted as it is sent through the internet channels, so thieves can’t access your sensitive information.

3. Know your credit card company’s fraud policies.

Many companies offer protection for online purchases.  Even if your financial data is misused, you may only be liable for a small portion, if any, of the fraudulent transactions.

Despite your best efforts to protect your financial data, you may become a victim of credit card or identity fraud.  If your credit card information has been misused or if you are locked in a credit card dispute, Hornberger & Brewer can help you get back on your feet.  Our talented attorneys will fight for your financial rights and the integrity of your good name.

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