It’s that time of year again – are you ready to put on your shopping hat and find great deals on gifts for the ones you love?

Being in a wheelchair creates many challenges when it comes to dealing with the larger crowds at local department stores and malls around the holidays. Luckily, shopping has become easier than ever before, thanks to the steady movement from in-store to online. Today, an increasing number of retailers are providing their best prices to internet shoppers.

With that being said, online shopping isn’t without its dangers. Here are a few ways that you can protect yourself – and your identity – from those who would take advantage of you while shopping online:

  • Always look for the padlock. Shopping on secure sites using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption provides the best guarantee that your information will be kept safe. Look for a URL that begins with “https” as opposed to “http”. This URL is often accompanied by a padlock icon or the word “secure” in the address bar.
  • Update the passwords on all your accounts. Using a new, more complex password will protect you from having your information being hacked. This includes updating your personal email or banking passwords.
  • Do not use public wi-fi to shop or check your banking. This makes it easier for others using the same network to access your information.
  • Always sign out of web sites after shopping.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Or better yet, opt for Paypal when available. Both credit cards and Paypal offer protections for consumers.
  • Do not trust sites that want you to pay by money order or wire transfer.
  • Watch out for phony emails from scammers pretending to be your bank, payment gateway or a retailer. Do not click email links that look suspicious in any way.
  • Don’t fall for fake retailer or shopping apps. Look for reviews. The more (positive!) reviews an app has, the more likely it is legit. Real apps often contain reviews in the hundreds, if not thousands. Better yet, download apps by visiting the company’s web site first. Most companies provide a link to their official app on their site.
  • Always read reviews on sellers you do not recognize, especially for privately owned online stores, marketplace sellers or auction sites.

This mobility update has been brought to you by NMEDA – the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Need some information on how to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible or upgraded with the latest and most convenient features? Contact a NMEDA dealer in your local area. Your local NMEDA member is a mobility equipment and accessibility expert!

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