In the wake and uncertainty of the Equifax hack, you can still shop assured on selectblinds.com! The IT pros here at SelectBlinds.com want to make you happy by reminding you that:
We hope you’ve taken steps to find out if you were impacted by the Equifax breach, and to protect your identity and information going forward. In the meantime, here are 10 tips to make your online shopping experience easier, and how to keep your identity and financial information safer.
1. Make sure your computer is secure. If your computer isn’t protected from malware (malicious software), you’re just inviting hackers to steal your financial information, passwords and everything else you store on your computer or do online. A simple Google search for “computer security software” is all it takes to find a program to meet your needs.
You also want to make sure your computer’s firewall is on. If you use a wireless network, it needs to be encrypted, so hackers can’t access your information.
2. Never shop from a computer on a public network. This may seem like a no-brainer, but public networks are not as secure as your own, so you risk others seeing your information. Avoid making any financial transactions (shopping, banking, etc.) on a public network to help keep your information and identity safe.
Need more speed to check out faster on shopping sites? Consider getting a faster internet plan, or downloading more memory.
3. Check the site’s URL. To tell if a site is secure, look for the little padlock icon in your browser’s URL bar. You can also tell if the site is secure by looking for an “s” in the URL address: https://. Non-secure sites and pages begin with http.
4. Shop with trusted e-retailers you know. If you’re a fan of a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer whose reputation is, literally, on (the) line, chances are you can trust their web site. Visiting a new site? Read the reviews. At selectblinds.com, we’re super proud of the fact that we’re the highest rated, most reviewed online blinds retailer, so you can be sure we’re not going to jeopardize that by putting our customers’ information in jeopardy.
On the flip side, beware of “shady,” suspicious sites advertising ‘too good to be true’ offers; as the saying goes, they usually are. Disreputable online retailers often use the old “bait and switch” scam to lure customers by running a ridiculously low price promotion and then, when you go to add the item to your cart – surprise! – it’s “out of stock,” so they try to sell you something else.
5. Only use credit cards, rather than debit cards. Credit cards represent an extension of credit, while debit cards draw directly from your bank account. Hackers can do much more damage to your finances with your debit card info than with your credit card number. Also, Consumer Reports recommends using just one credit card, or a payment service like PayPal, for all your online purchases. This way, if a hacker does get your account information, you only have one credit card company or service to deal with.
6. Beware of extra charges. Shipping, of course, is the biggie, so be sure to check the fine print on what qualifies for “free shipping” (not everything does, like most over-sized items). And before checking out, read the retailer’s return policies thoroughly. Many charge restocking fees for returns – some up to 25% or more. But typically a fee of 15% of the price you paid for the returned item is standard for specially packaged products, like electronics.
7. Don’t use a site that asks for more information than necessary to complete the sale. Providing basic information including your name, billing and shipping address, phone number, email address and method of payment is part and parcel of online shopping. But if a site requests other information, click delete! NEVER supply your bank account information, social security information, or driver’s license number. Some companies ask questions about your interests for marketing purposes, but these and any on-site questionnaires should always be optional.
9. Create a unique password for each site. Most e-commerce sites give you the option to create your own account. This makes sense for e-retailers you shop from frequently (but not necessary or recommended if you’re a one-time buyer), so you’ll need to create a strong, unique password. Be sure to follow the site’s prompts for creating a password that meets their security requirements (number of characters, cap/lowercase letters, special symbols, etc.).
10. Always check the company’s shipping terms. Ever found a great price on something online, only to get to check out and see the shipping charge is as much or more than the item itself? It happens. Exorbitant shipping fees, especially on small orders, can turn a shopping bargain into an expensive mistake, so read your options carefully. Look to see if order tracking and insurance is provided. Understand what carriers the retailer uses and how packages are delivered (direct to your door, drop off at curb, by appointment, signature required, etc.), and be particularly cautious if the item won’t be shipped within 10 days.
Happy IT Professionals Day! Today’s tips brought to you by the madcap members of our incredible IT Team, who are always inventing ways to better protect your information and privacy on selectblinds.com!