Online shopping safety tips


Adapted from MU Office for Financial Success Finance Tip of the Week blog post by Ryan H. Law, M.S., CFP®, AFC, Personal Financial Planning Department, Office for Financial Success Director, University of Missouri Center on Economic Education Director

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many people will continue with their holiday shopping both in stores and online, but it is important to do so safely. In either setting, you want to protect your private information. You should also be familiar with store information and store policies so that you know who to contact and how an issue or return can be resolved, if necessary.

Here are five additional tips specifically for shopping safely online:

  1. Be sure the website’s purchase page is secure. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the site is secure or not, but be sure the page where you enter your credit card information is secure. Here’s how you can tell: the browser should say “https” instead of “http” and you should see a lock icon somewhere on the page. Here is what the sales page looks like:You can see both the https and the lock icon, which means it is a secure page.
  2. Don’t purchase items from emails unless you can verify where they came from. You may get deals in your inbox from Walmart, Target, Amazon and many other reputable companies. Email marketing is cheap and effective. When you hover over the links in the emails from reputable stores, you can see that the link goes back to the company website. However, you may also get emails that say nothing more than this, for example:“Get the New 32GB iPad Sold for $31.08!”

    When you get this type of email and you don’t recognize the sender or the store name, you should be suspicious. Do NOT click any links within such an email, including the “unsubscribe” link! Just delete these emails immediately. They are spam and many have some kind of virus. If you don’t click on the links, you will be safe.

  3. Use your credit card to make purchases online. Never trust a website that doesn’t accept credit cards or that encourages you to pay using Western Union or something like that. Your credit card has built-in protection, as do websites like PayPal. If you never receive the item, you can file a dispute and your credit card company won’t charge you for the item.

For the remaining safety tips, view the full version of this article at


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