Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Let’s be careful out there

They call it “Black Friday” (aka “Blitz” Friday) — the day after Thanksgiving –and the news services called this year’s “the busiest Internet retail day ever.” Black Friday is supposed to be the day retailers offer their best “deals”, and when the holiday gift-buying “season” begins.. the season that is so vital to so many sellers.
I thought that was kind of different: that they would emphasize “Internet” this year. It appears that we’ve reached a point where more people are doing their gift-buying online than at the mall. (So guess what’s coming, as sure as God made little green apples– more Internet sales taxes.)

It’s a fact, there are more reasons to do your shopping online this year than there were before ($3½-per-gallon reasons). And, shopping on the Internet has been around for a while now… it is no longer a new, and frightening development. At this point in history (long after the “dot com bust”) most of us have made at least one purchase from the Web — whether it was an airline ticket, a hotel room, a book or video, or a membership in a club or society.
We have “been there”. We have “done that”. We’ve “got the t-shirt”. It’s old hat.

But just because e-commerce has matured, and because we have made prior purchases without getting burned, doesn’t mean we need to let down our guard.. or assume that all the bugs are ironed out.. or think that all the frauds and huckster are so amateurish as to be easily recognized (like the guy selling TVs out of the trunk of his car is easily recognized). No! Be not lulled! Be not complacent!
Let’s, Dear Holiday Shopper, be careful out there!

It is likely that you have read, or heard, warnings about safe Internet shopping (and, I have written such advice here in prior articles) before; but, let’s review the basics:
1) Never enter personal information — much less your credit card number — on a webpage that is not showing two things: a gold lock icon in the address bar of your browser, and the “s” in the https:// beginning of the website URL.
To review my article on this topic, click here.
1A) There a sub-advisory here: click on the gold lock icon– if your browser tells you that there is a “problem” with this website’s “certificate”…
..such as shown above, it does not necessarily mean this is a fraudulent website BUT do not make a purchase here. Err on the side of caution and move on to a different vendor.

2) Hopefully “phishing” is not an unfamiliar term to you, but have you heard of “pharming“? Frequently, this is a ‘look-alike’ website. The idea is to get you to enter your pertinent information, and clearly you want to avoid these pure-fraud website’s whenever possible. To do so, never click on links to websites you recieve in an email. Enter the URL manually into your browser’s address bar (or Copy>Paste it).
Also, when you’re shopping online, turn on your browser’s phishing filter, or do a “spot check”. In IE7, click on the “Tools” button, click on “Phishing Filter”, and then “Check this Website”.

Another very good website checker is McAfee’s Site Advisor. Here you can enter the URL for the website and get a report of the site’s ‘rating’, or you can download a browser “plug in”.

Well, I’m out of time for today. Shopping on the Internet can be a great time and money saver. Have a good weekend and, please, be careful out there.

Copyright © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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December 1, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, Phishing, security, shopping for, tech | , | Leave a comment