Experts offer advice for safe online holiday shopping

by Brandon Richards bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - According to the National Retail Federation, almost half of consumers will do their holiday shopping online this year.

And online shopping has not only become easier, so has scamming.

"With the 'hustle and bustle' of the holidays it's easy to become complacent and rush through online shopping transactions," said Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso. "The convenience of online shopping could quickly become an inconvenience should your personal information fall into the wrong hands."

Lake Charles shopper Alexis Washington agrees that online shopping has its advantages and disadvantages.

"I find cheaper prices online," Washington said. "[But] there's a $7.00 shipping [fee] online that I don't want to have to pay."

But as Christmas approaches, more consumers will do their holiday shopping online, that's why the Calcasieu Sheriff's Department has released the following tips for online holiday shoppers:


*Choose Credit Over Debit- Credit cards actually provide better protection from identity theft than debit cards do. One has several days to dispute a charge on their credit card statement, whereas money is immediately deducted from a debit card.

*Disposable is Better - Disposable credit cards are becoming more popular. Disposable cards work just like credit cards, however the only money available is the money you choose to put on the card.

*Verify Website Security- The page you enter your credit card information should begin with HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://. The "S" stands for secure. Secure sites also have a small lock icon in the lower right corner.

*Don't Shop Publicly - It's safer to shop from home, rather than at work or at a public location such as a library or coffee shop.

*Don't Store Information Elsewhere - Never save your information (such as passwords, log-in codes, etc.) Although this can be a convenience for future shopping, it's risky to store personal information elsewhere.

*Be Wary of Unusually Low Prices - If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If one price falls way below other similar items, be suspicious.

*Read the Fine Print- Always look for the retailer's return policy. Too many people neglect to study the fine print when it comes to exchanges, returns and the fees that they incur.

*Use Common Sense- If a site doesn't feel safe, don't shop on that site.

"If consumers take the time to follow these few simple precautions, they can enjoy the conveniences of shopping online and feel confident they are doing so while upholding the integrity of their personal information," said Mancuso.

Carmen Million with the Better Business Bureau advices anyone who's in doubt about the authenticity of an online retailer to call the Lake Charles chapter of the BBB at (337) 478-6253.

You can also find the Lake Charles Better Business Bureau's office here.

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