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We all indulge in retail therapy once in a while. But when going to the mall means queueing up at the counter for almost an hour, or scouring a whole stretch of stores and ending up with nothing at the end of the day, online shopping is the next sensible, stress-free thing to do. Online shopping has gained popularity over the years because aside from being convenient, it is also a lot cheaper, faster and offers more variety. The one question that keeps niggling at the minds of every online shopper, however, is, ''is it safe?'' The truth is, all it takes is a little common sense to keep one’s valuable information and funds intact while trawling various websites.
• Shop from popular and secure websites - Though we sometimes like to veer off the beaten path, this could prove risky at times. Check out for red flags like too many pop-up windows, bad photos, logos, and requests for more personal info. Ensure ''https'' not only ''http'' on the address bar and the padlock sign are present.
• Be creative about passwords - Some people use only one password for all web transactions. A combination of numbers, letters and symbols is always hard to crack and keeps fraudsters at bay – and change passwords regularly.
• Use prepaid/credit card over debit card - Because a prepaid card is not linked to any bank account, chances of identity theft are nil. A credit card offers a certain degree of protection in that the credit card company can give refunds for fraudulent transactions, while money stolen from a debit card is difficult to recover.
• Avail of password security service - Without this, you cannot proceed with checking out. Offered by Mastercard (Mastercard SecureCode) and Visa (Verified by Visa), this provides double protection against virtual theft.
• Ensure that you buy only from trusted websites
• Be creative about passwords; change them regularly
• Do not give out unnecessary personal information
Source: Ellen Joyce Soriano, Special to Classifieds, gulfnews.com
The writer is a freelancer