How can I be Safe While Shopping Online?

Bronwyn Harris

As more and more people have taken to buying everything from vitamins to automobiles on the Internet, concerns abound about the safety of buying things online. If doing your shopping from work or home is more convenient for you, do you need to stop in order to keep your personal information safe? Although there is always a slight risk, a few easy steps will dramatically increase your safety when shopping online.

Using a debit card online can make a person more likely to be a victim of fraud.
Using a debit card online can make a person more likely to be a victim of fraud.

First, when shopping online, never do it from a public computer. Only use your work or home computer, ensuring that you or your spouse are the only ones with access to the information stored on it. Also, if you want to make sure that your information is safe, don't have any sites store your credit card information. It may save you a few seconds when you shop on that site again, but the privacy of not having a retailer save your credit card information is worth the negligible amount of time saved.

Using a personal device for online shopping is better than a public computer.
Using a personal device for online shopping is better than a public computer.

Shopping online is safer when you are buying from a well-known, established company. If you have a problem with your order or your charges from a company that no one has ever heard of, you may be out of luck. However, if you have the same problem with an established company with plenty of different locations, you can easily find someone to help you remedy the problem. Along the same lines, when you are shopping online, you should always make sure that the company has an easy way to contact customer service. They should have an email address, toll free number, or live chat — preferably all three. If you can't find a way to contact customer service, don't order from that company!

Using a credit card when you are shopping online is generally safer than a debit card. If something happens with your charges on a credit card, the money has not been deducted from your account. Furthermore, most credit card companies provide fraud protection and this is not yet true of all debit cards. Some credit cards even provide virtual credit card account numbers that can be used only once, ensuring your safety.

Finally, when shopping online, as in physical stores, use common sense. Don't give out information such as your social security number to retailers. Check your credit card statement to make sure that you are only being charged once, and only for the actual amount of your purchase. By paying attention and being careful, shopping online should be a very low-risk venture.

Credit cards usually have built-in fraud protection.
Credit cards usually have built-in fraud protection.

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Discussion Comments


@raynbow- Shopping online is also safer if you designate only one credit card account or bank account for all of your online purchases. When you do this, you do not have to worry about keeping track of multiple accounts.

In addition, should any problems occur, you will only have to worry about one account. This will also make returning items a lot easier, because you will know exactly which account you used to make the original purchase. It will be easy to follow up on refund amounts, too.


Many reputable shopping sites have different types of accreditation from retail and consumer organizations. If you are leery of online shopping, look for these types of endorsements on a shopping website before you make any purchases. They are usually located at the bottom of a webpage, or can be found on the "about us" page.

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