Staying Safe on the Internet

Staying Safe on the Internet

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Nadine Wimmer Reporting Most people think they're pretty internet savvy, but recent research, some from the University of Utah, suggests just the opposite. And it could be costing you.

When you ‘Google’ or search for information and the screen comes up, can you look and tell what's content and what's paid content, or a commercial? Without that kind of know how you can get taken advantage of.

Jason Hosking is searching on-line to buy a car. If he's like most of us, he has a hard time always knowing which links are sponsored.

Jason Hosking: “It’s pretty tough to distinguish the two usually.”

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, only 38% of people understand the difference of a paid link. That's not all. A U of U researcher found a lot of people will judge the credibility of a web site simply by how nice it looks on the screen.

Dr. Robert Mayer, U of U Family and Consumer Studies: “We found that consumers rely heavily on surface material to determine if the information in a site is going to be reliable.”

Brittney Hart: “If it looks good, it looks like someone put a lot of effort into it, then it’s probably a legitimate one.”

Jason Hosking: “Yeah, that comes into play. Sometimes you have a site that’s more attractive than others and they kind of grab your attention.”

But you can see the dangers if you're relying on the site for something like medical information. There are other misperceptions. Few shoppers buy the first appliance or computer they see in a store. Yet online people don't shop around like they should, and they end up paying as much as 25-percent more than they might have to.

Dr. Robert Mayer, University of Utah: “The incentives are out there. You can probably make more money per hour shopping on the web for your car insurance than you can make at your job, but people ignore that.”

Experienced users try to make sure the deals and websites they see online are legit.

Alicia: “See if there’s somewhere I can see postings to see if it’s a recommended site.”

Brittney Hart: “Checking to see where it came from, who wrote it.”

Our expert agrees. To Stay Safe study sources, not layout, to judge credibility. Call or contact the company to verify they are what they say. And compare your product or information to two other sites. Also, our U of U researcher suggests Consumer Reports on-line, which will rate websites.

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