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Shopping More Securely Online

Online shopping has become a reality of modern life. Online prices sometimes are lower than those at a retail store and, considering our busy lives, what is more convenient than just staying home, taking out your credit card, and having what you want directly shipped to its destination?

However, as anything else that you do on the Internet, when you shop online you open yourself to the perils of cyber space. Ultimately, you need to actively manage your behavior and keep your personal and financial information secure while shopping using the Internet.

  • Buy From Reputable and Secure Sellers and Services:
    • Use shopping portals that are well known or the official websites and applications of brands/stores. Be cognizant of return and cancellation policies.
    • Online shopping sites should be Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)-encrypted to protect the transmission of your financial information. You can check this feature by looking at the address of the site and verifying that it has https:// at the beginning of the address. Sometimes you will see a padlock icon.
    • Avoid using obscure online shopping services: Research consumer reviews and check whether the online service is accredited with a bureau, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
    • Avoid purchasing items from an advertisement from a browser search or from ads and websites on side bars or pop-up windows. Be suspicious of an item whose price may be too good to be true. In fact, these ads, deals or websites could be a phishing scam (fraudulent link that looks legitimate) created to lure you into providing personal and financial information and steal it. Please check our page on Phishing & Vishing Attacks for more information.
    • If you are engaging in a peer-to-peer transaction look closely at the reviews of the seller and be careful even if you are using a reputable online service, such as Amazon. As a general rule of thumb avoid doing peer-to-peer shopping as the likelihood for fraud is greater in those transactions.
    • If you use mobile applications to shop, make sure that those mobile apps are the legitimate ones for the online shopping service, and that you obtain them from reputable app stores. Keep those apps updated with their more recent security safeguards.
    • For each online shopping website that you use, set strong unique multi-character passwords and if offered set up 2-factor/2-step authorization. To learn more visit our page on Effective Passwords.
  • Keep Your Personal and Financial Information Safe:
    • Be careful with how and with whom you share information and the methods of payment that you employ.
    • As a general rule of thumb, share the least amount of information necessary to complete a transaction on an online shopping site. You should provide only credit card information and shipping information.
    • Monitor your banking statements for fraudulent charges and immediately report suspicious activities to your bank or credit card company.
    • Any reputable service online will not initiate requests for financial or personal information via email, text message or phone call. When in doubt, communicate with the online shopping site through a different channel to verify.
    • Do not share credit card information via email. Any online credit card payment or information should be sent via an SSL-encrypted site.
    • Avoid storing your credit card/payment information in the site for later use.
    • You may find helpful to use reputable online payment services such as PayPal where you can keep your credit card information stored and secured. By using those services you don't share your actual credit card information with retailers.
    • Keep an eye on your children's online behavior including online shopping, if needed, set spending limits on the sites or credit cards to which they may have access.
    • Understand your consumer protections such as the Fair Credit Billing Act that can protect you for certain erroneous charges and disputes regarding credit cards. You can also read the Union Bank Responsibility for Unauthorized Transactions statement for additional information.
    • Read the privacy policies of all your online shopping services and understand how they are using your personal data and with whom they share it. Opt out, as needed.
  • Use Secure Personal Devices:
    • Shop online using your personal computer, laptop, or mobile device (such as tablet or mobile phone), as you will be using your credit card.
    • Do not shop online using work-related devices: not only would you expose work devices to vulnerabilities, but doing personal shopping from a work device is against company policies at most workplaces.
    • Keep your web browser updated so that it has its most recent security patches. To do so go to "Settings" or "Help" on your browser. It may be a wrench symbol on the right hand corner of your browser's tab (whether Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer) or a drop-down menu. Often, when you click on the "About... Name of the Browser" section you can see what version it is and check for un update.
    • Install and update anti-malware and anti-virus software to scan and capture vulnerabilities in your Internet-connected devices.
    • Have strong passcodes/passwords on all your devices.
  • Connect Securely to the Internet:
    • Avoid using public Wi-Fi especially when shopping online. You should not transmit personal or financial information, such as credit cards in an open unencrypted network.
    • Purchase home Internet and your mobile data plan from a reputable well-known provider.
    • At home, your network should be Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2). Even with a WPA2 network, be aware that vulnerabilities still exist.
    • Change the password to the network from the generic one that the Internet provider gives you. To change the password of your home network, often you have to log in online to the webpage of your Internet/cable company and create a user name in order to access your account online and change settings.
Visit Online Shopping by the National Cyber Security Alliance for more information. For additional Union Bank's Fraud prevention resources or to report suspicious activity on your accounts please visit our page on Fraud Education and Awareness.
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