Buying Online Best Practices

We are in the holiday season, which entails gift giving. Many of these presents will be purchased online, so it is a good idea to go over tips for staying safe while purchasing online. You could stick to well-known sites like or (by Walmart). These sites carry a tremendous variety of goods provided by them or third parties.

For any computer connected to the Internet, it is recommended that you have the most updated software on your computer. You should always use the newest browser available. For Firefox or Chrome, you can go to the ‘About’ menu option and check and see if you have the latest version. Some of the other browsers are updated with the operating system. If your operating system is no longer receiving updates it is time to upgrade.

If you wish to go to smaller online stores, you need to exercise a degree of caution, but it is often worth it. Many smaller stores carry unique gifts or superior service since you are speaking with the person behind the business and they can be very responsive to unique needs. You do need to verify that these online sites are legitimate stores. Information you can check for includes:

Do they have location information and does that location exist?

Do they have a US domain name (does not end in ru, cn, gq)?

Do they have a green lock shown in the browser on their payment pages? In general banks will review the security of smaller sites before they process their credit card payments and the credit card companies also have a list of requirements.

Many of the smaller sites do not even store the data on their servers, they use a third party for payment processing. When you see Paypal, Bank of America, BB&T, it can provide some assurance that the processing is being done relatively securely. Big businesses have more resources to put towards security, but as the Equifax breach showed us they might not have better security.

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