5 tips for a safe ONLINE shopping experience

By Scott Gillentine

Shopping online can be a great money-saving experience provided you take some precautions and do your research. Aside from being convenient, there are some real deals to be had if you take the time to search. Major retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Google and others are offering free shipping and deep discounts to get you to buy online. On top of that, consider the time saving by ordering products and having them shipped right to your door.

Sounds great, right? It can be, but take some time first to educate yourself on what YOU should do to stay safe.

If you are going to be making a purchase online, or if you are going to your bank’s website, check to make sure it is a secured site. You will be able to determine this by looking for the Padlock and the HTTPS in the upper left hand corner of your web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox). When you see the (S) at the end of the https web address, it means the data is encrypted and is secured when sent over the Internet. Hackers cannot do anything with your data because it is secured. ALL banking sites will have the https web address. I can assure you that the banking industry would not be giving people access to their accounts online if they were not secure! Rest easy! (HOMEWORK: Go to your bank’s website  now  and check!)

Check with your bank on what their credit card fraud policies are. If you find fraudulent charges on your card, and you report them in a timely manner, the most you will be liable for is $50. Sometimes they will not charge you anything at all and they will remove the charges. But check to be sure.

Regularly check your bank and credit card statements and review the charges. This is an easy and quick thing to do if you have online access to your accounts. The more in-touch you are with your money, the quicker you will know if there is a problem.

Purchase Protection is another way you can make sure that your purchases are secure and if there is a problem, your money will be quickly refunded. Google and PayPal are the two major players that offer this service. However, check with the store you are purchasing from and you will probably find they want to make sure your online experience is a pleasant one. Here are links for customer support:



Always make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and scanning regularly!

Shopping online can be fun and save you money and time. These tips will help to ensure it is a safe experience, too!

Scott Gillentine is the owner/operator of Great Scott! Computer Services in Winston-Salem since 2004. He specializes in residential and small business computer and printer  support. He can be reached at 336-331-2430 or by email

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