The University of Texas at Austin

Security Awareness

Safe Online Shopping

Make sure your online purchases are secure by following this checklist.

It’s one of the great pleasures of the Internet. The ability to find anything you can imagine online…and to buy it! Shopping online has provided new access for customers looking for specialty items and sellers looking for new customers. However, shopping online is one of the most vulnerable actions you can take when attempting to protect your personal information online. Here is a checklist to consider for making your online purchases as safe as possible.

  • Only shop at online stores of reputable companies (companies you already know from retail stores, mail order catalogs or other sources). Know how to contact them offline if there is a problem with your purchase. If you are unsure of the company, do a little research with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Secure your Web browser. Check the security settings of your Web browser to increase the security of your transactions.
  • Check for security icons before giving your personal information. Before you type in your credit card number or name and address, check for security icons on the Web site. This includes looking for “https” in the Web address or URL. Https indicates the Web site is equipped with an additional security layer. If it’s not there, the site or page is not secure.
  • Create unique passwords. Don’t use the same password for all of your online accounts and applications. If you do this, you risk having all of your accounts compromised if only one account is breached. Remember to never use your university passwords for other online accounts.
  • Don’t enable the “Save Password” option if prompted to do so. If you are using a shared computer, pre-saved passwords will make it easy for others to access your accounts.
  • Use only one dedicated credit card for online purchases. Monitor your monthly statements closely for any unusual activity.
  • Don’t use a debit card for online purchases. You are more protected using a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit card companies offer some degree of fraud protection and may be able to reverse charges to your account.
  • Check the Web site’s privacy policy. Only shop with online stores offering privacy policies that you agree with. They should provide information about how they will protect your personal information and whether it will be provided to other companies.
  • Always log out of a Web site when you are through. Again, this will protect your accounts on a shared computer.
  • Review your monthly credit card and bank statements. Check for any unauthorized purchases or errors. Notify your bank or credit card company immediately if you suspect someone is using your accounts without your permission.