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How to Shop Online More Safely

Making sure you're doing business with a secure and trustworthy website

These tips can help you determine that you're shopping at a secure and trustworthy website.

Look for signs that the business is legitimate

Buy from reputable stores and sellers. Here are some ways to check:

  • Find out what other shoppers say. Sites like or BizRate have customer evaluations which can help you determine a company's legitimacy.
  • Look for third-party seals of approval. Companies can put these seals on their sites if they abide by a set of rigorous standards such as how personal information can be used. Two seals to look for: Better Business Bureau Online—(BBBOnline) or TRUSTe.


If you see the seals, click them to make sure they link to the organization that created them. Some unscrupulous merchants will put these logos on their websites without permission.

Look for signs that the website protects your data

  • On the web page where you enter your credit card or other personal information, look for an "s" after http in the web address of that page. (Encryption is a security measure that scrambles data as it traverses the Internet.)
  • Also make sure there is a tiny closed padlock in the address bar, or on the lower right corner of the window.


Use a filter that warns you of suspicious websites

Find a filter that warns you of suspicious websites and blocks visits to reported phishing sites. For example, try the SmartScreen Filter included in Internet Explorer.

Keep your web browser updated

Internet Explorer 9 is the newest version of the Microsoft web browser software. It helps protect you when you shop online.