Adjusting Facebook settings: Since you’re already on Facebook, it’s the perfect place to start! In the upper right hand corner, you should see a little paddle-lock icon. Click on that icon, and a drop down menu to your privacy settings will appear. These settings allow you to choose who will see your profile and posts.
Shopping at online retailers: These days, for convenience and savings, many people choose to shop for new items online. The most important thing when shopping online is to use reputable and secure sites. In your web browser, check that the login site address starts with an “https” instead of just “http.” The “s” stands for secure. Legitimate retailers will also usually have a “terms and conditions” page, a “contact us” page and a physical address and phone number.
Shopping for used items online: Shopping for used items online is a little trickier, since you’ll usually be purchasing from an individual or a small operation versus an established retailer. While purchasing through online classifieds such as Craigslist.org and your local newspaper site can produce great bargains, take some precautions:
- Never meet with a seller alone.
- Pick up the item in a public place.
- Pay with cash when you pick it up. Never wire funds via Western Union or MoneyGram, and don’t give classifieds sellers your credit card or bank information.
Used items can also be purchased and shipped to you on larger sites like Half.com and Amazon.com, and at auction sites like eBay.com. On these types of sites, check seller feedback carefully, and don’t purchase from sellers without good ratings. Research the product to see if the asking price and shipping costs are fair, or decide how much you want to bid if it’s an auction. Check the terms and conditions, including any refund or return policies. Pay with a credit card or PayPal, and look for the “https” in the Web address before entering payment details.
Avoiding scams: There are many online scams to try and get your money or personal information. Often these scams start out as emails. Here are some tips for avoiding common scams:
- Watch out for phony sites, such as sites that are similar to a reputable retailer’s name with a slight change in spelling, or a website ending in something other than “.com” or “.org.” You may get an email looking as if it came from a legitimate business you frequent. The email then links you to the phony site and asks you to login so that they can steal your username and password. Look for that “https” in the address before you login.
- Legitimate email messages and sites will generally use correct grammar and spelling. If it looks fishy, it probably is!
- Also be on the lookout for sad stories, where a stranger asks you for monetary help. Credit card offers or lottery offers asking for money up front from you for fees are also a common scam.
- Remember to watch for any requests to wire transfer money. These are almost always a scam.
The most important thing is to trust your instincts and remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! The benefits of the Internet are great, and with some precautions you can safely navigate cyberspace to take full advantage of all it offers.