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Safe Holiday Shopping

Mother, father and their son spending time together, walking on the street, shopping for Christmas present.

The holiday season is kicking off and as you join the ranks of holiday shoppers, you’ll find plenty of ways to spend your hard-earned money. However, online shopping isn’t just convenient, it can also present opportunities for scammers and cybercriminals. Here are some tips to get your holiday shopping done with peace of mind.

Know who you’re dealing with.

Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. Confirm the online sellers’ physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. And if you get an email or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you’re browsing, don’t reply or follow the link. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information that way.

Know what you’re buying.

Read the seller’s description of the product closely, especially the fine print. Words like “refurbished,” “vintage,” or “close-out” may indicate that the product is in less-than-mint condition, while name-brand items with bargain basement prices could be counterfeits.

Know what it will cost.

Check out websites that offer price comparisons and then compare “apples to apples”. Factor shipping and handling into the total cost of your purchase. Do not send cash or money transfers under any circumstances.

Check out the terms of the deal, like refund policies and delivery dates.

Can you return the item for a full refund if you’re not satisfied? If you return it, who pays the shipping costs or restocking fees, and when you will get your order? A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date if no specific date is promised. Many sites offer tracking options, so you can see exactly where your purchase is and estimate when you’ll get it.

Keep records.

Print or save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and the emails you send and receive from the seller. Read your credit card statements as you receive them; be on the lookout for charges that you don’t recognize.

Protect your information.

Don’t email any financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting financial information like your credit card, checking account, or Social Security number. If you begin a transaction and need to give your financial information through an organization’s website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a URL that begins with “https” (the “s” stands for secure).

Check the privacy policy.

Really. It should let you know what personal information the website operators are collecting, why, and how they’re going to use the information. If you can’t find a privacy policy — or if you can’t understand it — consider taking your business to another site that’s more user-friendly.

Stay safe online.

Shopping online for gifts is convenient and fast. But before you electronically swipe your card, make sure the site is safe. A padlock on the screen indicates that the page uses the SSL protocol (a data transfer security standard that encrypts data and authenticates the server and the integrity of the message) or the TLS protocol. This symbol indicates that all information, most notably banking details, is secured. Finally, look at the total amount before you make the purchase.

Keep your card safe with our Smart Card App.
Looking for a way to keep an eye on your holiday spending, potential fraud, update travel plans, and more? With our Smart Card App, you can monitor and set restrictions on the swipes of any debit cards linked to your Chelsea Groton account. Manage your debit cards safely and efficiently this holiday season!