Know before you click ‘purchase.’

Next-day free shipping, targeted social media advertisements and the ease of online shopping are replacing the need to take a trip to the local shopping mall. Consumers can buy just about anything, anywhere directly from their laptops or mobile devices. However, it is a good idea to be aware of ways to protect yourself and your money when you are shopping online.

  1. Stay with the brands you know
    • If you don’t have a particular merchant in mind, search engines can be a great place to start. However, simply having a website does not mean a company is reputable. When using search engines, look at the spelling and grammar on the merchant’s website. Common misspellings and poor grammar are all red flags. Also, avoid websites with country specific domains unless you are specifically shopping for overseas goods. Online reviews can be a great place to start, but keep in mind not all positive “testimonials” may be legitimate. Be cautious of a large number of overly positive reviews which occur within a short time frame and then suddenly stop
  2. Look for the lock to indicate a security enabled site.
    • Never buy anything online from a site that doesn’t have Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption. You will know if the site has SSL because the URL begins with ‘https’, rather than ‘http’. The ‘s’ at the end indicates the site is secure. If you see a padlock symbol displayed in the website address bar, it also indicates that the site is encrypted.
  3. Don’t tell all
    • Be careful not to share more information than is needed. No online shopping site needs your social security number or birthday to complete a transaction. Avoid sending your credit or debit card details to anyone via email. Although it makes it very convenient to make repeat purchases, it is worth unchecking any option in your purchase process that allows the retailer to store your card details.
  4. Keep your computer or mobile device up to date
    • Make sure to run anti-virus and malware scans regularly. Check for updates to your operating system and ensure apps and browsers are kept up to date with the latest version. Continually update and always use strong, unique passwords for each online store where you make purchases. If you haven’t changed your password for an existing account in some time, it would be a good idea to do that now.
  5. Make sure your payment methods include buyer protections
    • With the enhanced security features available today with your United Community debit card, you have added layers of protection such as 3D Secure authentication or Zero Liability Protection1. You can also regularly check your account history, establish electronic alerts and even lock or unlock your debit card with Card Controls.

Take a proactive approach in deterring fraud on your account before hitting the check-out button.

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1Certain restrictions apply. Visit for additional information.