Protect Your Online Shopping

Follow these tips, adapted from tips provided by the Center for Internet Security, to protect your personal information when shopping online.

Secure Your Environment

Secure your mobile devices and computers.

Updating/patching your software regularly, running anti-virus/anti-spyware software, and enabling your firewall are a few steps you can take. See Secure Your Devices, including Secure Your Internet of Things Devices.

Do not use public computers or guest wireless for your online shopping.

Public computers may contain malicious software and public networks can allow criminals to intercept your financial traffic. See Use a Secure Internet Connection.

Use strong passwords.

Use a unique password for every unique site. Do not use your UMICH password for non-university websites. For tips on choosing strong passwords, see Choosing and Changing a Secure UMICH Password.

Don't use debit online.

Debit cards do not have the same consumer protections as credit cards, which are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act and may limit your liability if your information is used improperly.

Know Who You're Dealing With

Know your online shopping merchants.

Limit your online shopping to merchants you know and trust. If you question a merchant, check with the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.

Look for "https" in the URL/web address when making an online purchase.

The "s" in "https" stands for "secure" and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted. Be aware, though, that "https" is not a guarantee that the site is legitimate. Scammers have begun to use https for malicious websites.

Review privacy policies.

Review the privacy policy for the website/merchant you are visiting. Know what information the merchant is collecting about you, how it will be stored, how it will be used, and if it will be shared with others.

Avoid the Traps

Be suspicious of email, links, and attachments, even from trusted companies.

Scam artists will often impersonate trusted companies you may do business with. If you have not asked for information from a company, do not click links or open attachments, even if they appear to be from a known and trusted company at first glance.

Do not respond to pop-ups that promise free stuff.

When a window pops up promising you cash or gift cards for answering a question or taking a survey, close it:

  • Windows: Press Control and F4
  • Mac: Press Command and W

Do not auto-save your personal information.

This information can be stolen from your browser, turning the convenience of autofill into the nightmare of identity theft.

Use common sense to avoid scams.

Never give your financial information or personal information via email or text. Information about many current scams can be found at Internet Crime Complaint Center.