Ten Tips for Avoiding Online Scams

More and more consumers in Iowa and across the country are finding the Internet a convenient and cost-effective way to shop. Here are ten tips to help you get what you want online and leave what you don't: identity theft and other online scams.

1. Let Your Computer Protect Itself.
Make sure your computer has a secure fire wall, a spam filter and antivirus and antispyware software with the latest updates installed.

2. Don't Overshare. Expect to give your name, address, email address, and credit card information. Keep sensitive information like your Social Security number and birth date to yourself for routine online purchases.

3. Know Who You Are Dealing With. Use trustworthy websites. When in doubt, stay with online retailers you know or who are approved by the Better Business Bureau.

4. Use a Credit Card. All credit cards have buyer protections and many have "zero liability" policies to protect you if your credit card number is stolen.

5. Keep Close Track of Credit Card Purchases. Sign up for online access to your credit card statements and check often that they are accurate.

6. Retain Records of Your Purchase. Most online retailers will send a confirmation email with the details of your purchase. Keep your confirmation in an online folder or print it for your records.

7. Beware of Phishing Scams. Do not respond to emails claiming problems with an order or asking for financial or personal information. Instead, contact the retailer directly to confirm they need the information.

8. Your Privacy is Your Business. If a website has a privacy policy, review it. If there is no privacy policy, be aware that the website may sell your information to others without permission.

9. Make Sure You're "S" for Secure. The URL of secure site should begin with an "S" after the http. If a site does not begin with https:// and have a lock symbol designating encryption, it may not be secure.

10. If it Sounds Too Good to Be True, it Probably is. Trust your instincts and pass up a "deal" if it sounds too good to be true, e.g. an extremely low price on a hard-to-get item.

If you have been a victim of identity theft or an online scam, Brady Preston Gronlund may be able to help. Call (319) 866-9277 for your free legal consultation, or visit our website and fill out our online contact form, and we will contact you.