Survey: Online shopping surge during coronavirus pandemic, 5 ways to stay safe online

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Internet Fraud, Online Scams. Photo: Thinkstock

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DENVER (KDVR) — According to a recent survey from cashback site TopCashback.com, 60 percent of American consumers are shopping online more than they were just a month ago. With that increased online demand also comes an increase in scammers and unsafe websites.

TopCashback offered these five tips for staying safe when browsing your favorite online store:

Steer clear of suspicious websites

As a general rule, if a website seems questionable, has an outdated design, or has a ton of pop-up windows, it may not be a legitimate retailer. It’s worth verifying the URL; even if the website seems ok, make sure the URL says HTTPS. The “S” stands for “secure,” and is an extra layer of security that is vital when online shopping.

Avoid unsecured networks and devices

Use security software and firewalls on your computer to keep your personal information secure. While using a laptop at a coffee shop is out of the question right now, using public WiFi networks to shop should be avoided.

Use protected payment methods

Using a credit card or online wallet like PayPal adds an extra layer of fraud protection when making purchases. Debit cards often do not provide the same level of protection. Remain vigilant against fraud however, and report any suspicious activity on your card to your provider immediately.

Beware of phishing emails

With so many Americans shopping online, inboxes are being flooded with promotional emails. Be wary of any enticing emails from unfamiliar senders in your inbox. Delete suspicious emails without opening them, and beware of phishing scams disguised as if they came directly from family members, co-workers, etc.

Look out for price gouging scams

Health and medical supplies are now common targets for price gouging. If you notice an unusually high markup on an item like hand sanitizer, do not buy it. Instead, cross-reference the price compared to other sites. Learn more about reporting scams and fraud at justice.gov/coronavirus.

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