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Is Online Shopping Safe?

Photo credit:  danielfoster437 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Nashville, Ark. – The holiday season is upon us. Due to Covid, most people are looking to shop online instead of shopping in person. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year many cyber criminals go to work to scam you out of your money and identity.

How can I protect myself when shopping online?

  • When possible, purchase from websites you know, trust, and have done business with.
  • Verify the website has a legitimate mailing address and phone number for sales or to add support. If the site looks suspicious, call and speak to someone in person. If you can’t talk to a real person, that may be a sign you are dealing with someone who is not legitimate.
  • Look for warning signs, like deals that are too good to be true or poor spelling.
  • Be suspicious of a website that mimics a well-known website you have used in the past.
  • Type the store’s name or URL into a search engine and see what other people have said about the website in the past. A lack of reviews may indicate the website is very new and it might not be trustworthy.
  • Before purchasing any items, make sure your connection to the website is encrypted. Look for the lock and/or the letters https in green right before the website’s name.
  • Shop early! Since the beginning of Covid, it is taking longer to fill orders and ship them, especially if the company is smaller. Allow plenty of time for orders to be filled.

            In addition to shopping smart, you will want to keep your devices secure. Cyber criminals will try to infect your devices so they can access your bank accounts, credit card information, and passwords.

How can I keep my devices secure?

  • If you have children in your house, consider having two devices, one for you and one for the children. Children are naturally curious and like to interact with technology; which may be more likely to become infected. By using a separate computer just for online shopping and banking, you reduce the chance of becoming infected.
  • Keep your computer up-to-date. Always install the latest updates and run up-to-date anti-virus software. This makes it harder for cyber criminals to infect your device.

Should I use a debit card or credit card when shopping online?

            Use a credit card over a debit card when making online purchases. Debit cards take money directly from your bank account, so if fraud has been committed, it can be more difficult to get your money back. Be sure to check your credit card statements for errors. By detecting fraudulent charges early, you may have more success at having those charges erased and stopping the criminal activity. Consider using credit cards that generate a unique card number for every online purchase, gift cards, or well-known payment services, such as PayPal.

            For more information on shopping online safely or using credit wisely, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes Recipe

            Are you having sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving? Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. They also provide potassium, magnesium, and fiber. All needed nutrients for a healthy lifestyle.

  • 4 small sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into wedges or slices
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Optional seasonings: dried basil, oregano, garlic, ginger, cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. On a baking sheet, arrange sweet potato wedges in single layer.
  3. Drizzle with oil and seasonings (of your choice).
  4. Toss to cover.
  5. Roast about 40 minutes, turning potatoes until they are cooked and crisp.
Print this Roasted Sweet Potatoes recipe

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517
jince@uada.edu

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The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

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