The Dangers of Online Shopping in College: How to Be Safe & Protect Yourself Against Fraud

Shopping online can be enticing for people who don’t want to shop in the stores.

The hassle of the waiting in lines and searching through piles of merchandise to find what you want is so easily avoided if you shop online, right?

While there are definite perks to shopping online, in actuality, it can be a risky and a bit dangerous, especially for those who shop online frequently.

College students are an easy target for online shopping scams because most students are young and sometimes naïve.

Online Shopping

According to, an estimated 1.7 million households were victims of identity theft in 2009; two-thirds of those thefts were due to online shopping.

As college students, money often gets tight so its important to protect yourself when it comes to putting your information online.

Follow these tips to always keep your information safe and protect yourself against identity theft, online scams or even shopping too much.

Whether you are a student, recent grad or young professional, you should always be aware of your purchases and financial statements.

When possible, try to use secure payment services like Paypal.

Sign up for Paypal if you receive money through transfers, you transfer money to other accounts/people, if you use sites like Ebay or shop online frequently.

Paypal is the safest and most secure way to do all of the aforementioned; they protect your account with passwords and security information and while the sign up process may seem a bit cryptic, it is all worth it in the end because you are better protected as a result.

Paypal sends you emails and alerts and lets you know when money is being taken out or being put in. You will always be aware of what is going on with your account and you can check everything securely online. Plus, it’s free to sign up!

Keep a record of what you pay for and always check your statements online.

If you keep your receipts and check your statements regularly, you will always be in the know of what is going on in your bank account. If you see a purchase or money transfer that doesn’t add up or make sense, you can immediately call your bank and see what the deal is.

If you make purchases and never check your statements, you may end up double-buying something by mistake or purchasing something you didn’t mean to buy, etc. Worst case scenario would be someone who was making purchases using your information, but if you are aware of your current bank account transactions and check them daily, this should never be an issue.

Keep your confirmation emails that you get from the online purchases.

Always keep a record of your purchases and save them in your email or backup files. Print them off if necessary and file all of your online receipts or billing statements.

If you always have a record, you have proof of all your purchases and can use them as supporting evidence if there is a case of fraud related to your account.

Never keep your personal information saved on your computer. Keep your Anti-Virus and Spyware up to date.

One of the big mistakes people often make is saving their information on their computer. This is a bad idea for several reasons. If you have roommates, you never know who is on your computer (whether it is your roommate or a friend of your roommate) and you really can’t trust anyone.

What if someone breaks into your dorm or walks in and uses your computer and your information to purchase items?

Don’t ever use a public computer to make online purchases either; this is just asking for you to make a mistake (such as accidentally saving your password on the web) and the wrong person getting a hold of your information.

Be very cautious when doing business online, there are tons of scammers after your money or financial aid.

Scamming companies often target college students by pretending to be offering financial aid or scholarships to students via the internet, and many of them can be very convincing.

Don’t let them fool you! Never give out your financial information over the web without checking everything out first and even then, you can always register with this type of thing in person so to be safe, you should never handle your finances related to school over the web.

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