• 63°

Caution needed in Internet shopping

Cyber shopping might be all the rage, but Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department officials warn that providing credit card information online could prove risky.

Tuesday, November 30, 1999

Cyber shopping might be all the rage, but Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department officials warn that providing credit card information online could prove risky.

"If you’re going to shop online, make sure the company is reputable," Detective Carol Kitts said. "Also, it’s a good idea to double check your credit card statements each month for any discrepancies, not necessarily just those from online charges."

Although it is tempting to grab auction deals at sites such as EBay, a popular Internet auction site, the items are actually bought and paid for before the buyer receives them.

"The safer option, as far as credit goes, is to get out to the stores and shop that way," Ms. Kitts said. "But, if for some reason a person has to shop from home, catalog orders might be a better optioin. Again, though, it’s better only to use catalogs that you’ve heard of from stores you know."

Most online stores offer shoppers the option of paying on the Internet or paying by telephone or faxing the order, too.

It is possible, however, to shop online without worrying as much about sending credit card information.

From Netscape Netscenter (http:;///www.home.netcenter.com), here are a few ways to enjoy a more secure Internet shopping experience:

– Before shopping online, take the time to download the most recent version of the browser software you are using. Netscape offers Netscape Communicator 4.7 which is available with regular encription and 128-bit strong encryption. Although a security registration form is necessary before downloading the product, it does offer stronger encryption, thus decreasing the likelihood of an online credit card interception.

–  Don’t buy from places you are unfamiliar with.

– Only order from shopping Web sites that offer addition Secure Socket Layer (SSL) security.

– Pay attention to the warning signs. Although a strong-encryption browser always warns when sensitive information is being sent, use the menu bar under the "help" option to check the security of the site. It can help let a shopper know if the site is sharing the information with outside sources, as well as provide information about who the site belongs to. If the information doesn’t match, it’s not a good idea to continue with the purchase.