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Security Warning Signs When Shopping Online
4 ways to protect your money and identity when shopping online

Old couple on computer
Shopping online offers convenience that regular brick-and-mortar stores cannot match. Online stores never close, and they are accessible from your home computer or even on your phone when you’re out and about. Online shopping has progressed over the years with greater safeguards, but it still poses risks. Before you click “add to cart” or “checkout,” be sure to take notice of the following security warnings so your transaction is processed properly and safely.
 
Inspect the website to make sure it’s real
 
The internet is a vast maze of retailers. And, in such a great maze, it’s easy to get a little lost or tricked by a shop that looks “real” but in reality is a scam. A fake online shop will ask for things real stores never will like using your personal email or social media accounts to log in to the shop, warns FDIC.gov. Requiring you to download an app, too, can open you up to potential malware, adds the agency.
 
“Be careful of apps or websites that ask for suspicious permissions, such as granting access to your contacts, text messages, stored passwords, or credit card information. Also, poor grammar or misspelled words in an apps’ description or on a website is a red flag that it is not legitimate,” according to FDIC.gov.
 
Pass up too good to be true deals
 
Bargain hunting is a great way to find deals on items you need or want, but when an offer seems too good to be true, chances are it is. According to the security firm Norton, shockingly low prices are a warning sign of a potential online shopping scam.
 
“If you see low prices, or discounts above 55 percent, it might be too good to be true,” warns Norton. “Review the copyright date and domain creation date. Do not make purchases on young websites.” Unless the online shop is a reputable and well-known retailer, you may want to pass on that supposed great deal.
 
Review the URL for red flags
 
If you’re dealing with a crafty scammer who created a nearly flawless site mimicking that of a real online retailer, you can determine its realness with a review of its URL. The URL or website address can be a subtle giveaway that the site you’re shopping is parading fraudulent goods or services.
 
Heed the warning of “URLs with extraneous words or characters (most stores use only their brand name in web addresses) or unusual domains — for example, .bargain, .app, or a foreign domain instead of .com or .net,” notes AARP.org.
 
Avoid using email to reach a sale
 
Unfortunately your email address has undoubtedly been dropped into the slippery hands of online scammers. That means every day, your inbox and junk folder will be inundated with messages promoting deals, bargains, and intriguing sales. As tempting as their promises may be or how legitimate the message appears, it’s best to avoid interacting with these messages.
 
“Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or emails from unfamiliar sources. The links may lead to an illegitimate website attempting to get you to enter your credit card or other personal information,” according to FDIC.gov.
 
By paying attention to these warning signs, you can feel safer and more secure when shopping online.
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