WebsiteCompass 13 Back to Basics Shopping online is convenient, easy, and fun. But, as with everything on the internet, there are risks involved. Hackers and scammers are constantly thinking up new ways to take advantage of you and your personal information. We’re Sold on These 15 Online Shopping Strategies Hackers and scammers hope you don’t read this article, though Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself. 1. Use familiar websites. Retailers you know and trust should be your go-to resource when shopping online. If you venture out to sites you’re less familiar with, do a Google search of the retailer’s name plus the word “scams.” If anything comes up, move on to another site. Also, carefully review the site to make sure it seems legitimate. 2. Look for https. The initial part of a website URL is either “http” or “https.”That “s” at the end means “secure” and you’ll also see a locked padlock icon. Don’t do business on any site that doesn’t have these elements. 3. Read the fine print. Always be aware of the retailer’s return policy and other rules. For example, some companies offer credit only (not cash back) and some need the merchandise to be in its original condition or even unopened to be returned. Think in advance about the worst-case scenario in case you need to return something. 4. Don’t provide more information than you must. In the checkout process, some shopping sites ask for information they don’t really need, in hopes that you’ll automatically enter it. For example, they may want your email address to send you more information about their products. Look for asterisks (*) indicating “required” next to each field, and only enter infor- mation in those fields. 5. Create strong passwords. Passwords are such a simple element of online shopping that they may not seem important. But weak passwords make it easy for hackers to access your accounts. So, be sure your passwords are at least 15 characters and contain both uppercase and lowercase letters plus numerals and special characters. To eliminate having to keep track of your complex passwords, use a password manager.