Shopping smart and safely online

If you’re in the market for deals, the internet is the place to be. Whether you’re shopping sales or looking for unique vintage items on secondhand retail sites, online marketplaces make it easy for buyers to get the most bang for their buck.

But at Origin, we know that just because something is easy doesn’t mean it’s safe. Following these tips can help keep you and your financial information protected while you’re shopping or selling online.

Shopping Deals

Shopping for gifts or personal items during sales is a great way to save money.  But with all the tempting deals and discounts, it’s also prime time for hackers and fraudsters to exploit shoppers. Here’s how to keep yourself safe during your online shopping spree:

1. Only buy from reputable retailers. When it comes to deals, the internet is littered with fake coupons and phony sales. To protect yourself and your wishlist, only shop with retailers you know and trust. And if a discount seems too good to be true, double-check to make sure it’s legitimate and not an information-skimming scam.

2. Use protected payment methods. Another key to staying safe while online shopping is utilizing secure payment methods such as PayPal or Apple Pay. These options provide an extra layer of insurance, protecting you from fraud and making it much easier to get your money back in the case of a scam. Additionally, steer clear of sites that require wire transfers or prepaid debit cards as these transactions are much harder to trace and seek reimbursement for.

3. Steer clear of phishing emails. During seasonal sales, your inbox is inundated with countless emails linking to promising coupons, sales, and savings. And while some of these may help you save on purchases from your favorite retailers, others are scams used to trick buyers into entering personal and banking information. Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals that require you to click on suspicious links. Be on the lookout for low-resolution images or grainy logos, mismatched fonts, and awkward language filled with typos. These are often hallmarks of a scam, and you should delete these emails ASAP.


Shopping Secondhand

Shopping for secondhand items is not only a great way to find a bargain – it’s also the ultimate treasure hunt to find one-of-a-kind or vintage pieces. However, the used marketplace does present some elements of risk and no purchase is worth compromising your personal or financial safety.

Here are a few tips to follow when buying secondhand online:

1. Do your research. Before making a purchase, look into the selling history of the person you’ll be buying from. Look for a history of transactions, feedback and reviews from previous buyers. If you’re using a platform that doesn’t provide this information, try doing a quick internet search of their name or email address to see if anything pops upthat makes you reconsider doing business with them.

2. Meet in a public space. If you’re buying a small item, there’s no reason you should have to meet in someone’s home. Instead, meet in a well-lit public place like a coffee shop or grocery store. Make sure to meet the person inside the agreed-upon establishment and not in the parking lot.

3. The Buddy System. If you’re buying a large item, then meeting at the seller’s home may be unavoidable. Make sure you bring a friend with you as a safety precaution and to help you load and haul your new purchase.

4. Bank on it. When purchasing a big-ticket item, avoid carrying a large sum of cash and arrange to meet the seller at the bank during business hours. Between the security cameras and customers coming and going, this makes for a safe public meeting space.

Most importantly, whether you’re shopping a sale or secondhand, always trust your gut. If someone is asking too many personal questions, the sale seems too good to be true, or something just feels off, then it probably is. Trust your skepticism and only do business with people you feel comfortable with.

Origin Bank cares about your personal and financial safety. Sign up for debit alerts so you can keep track of your account activity and stop fraud in its tracks. Visit our online security center to learn how we protect our customers against fraud, and how to protect yourself.