Young woman online shopping

Shop Smart Online


It’s that time of year again when online shopping is on the rise. Although it’s convenient, quick, and easy to order your holiday gifts from your favorite Internet shops, it’s important to protect your banking or credit card information when making purchases. Common threats when shopping online include the following:

Malicious Websites
Some cyber criminals try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear legitimate but really serve to steal your personal information or install malware on your computer.

Unreliable Sellers
Without a physical location for you to track, it is easy for less reputable sellers to take your money without living up to their end of the transaction. Some may even sell the personal information you provided during the purchase to marketing firms or cyber criminals.

Cyber criminals sometimes attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm your purchase account information.

Follow these tips to protect your information when shopping online:

  • Keep a clean machine. Before you add items to your cart, make sure your computer or mobile device is up to date with the latest security software.
  • Check out the sellers. Research thoroughly before you supply any information to a seller with whom you have never done business before. Look for merchant reviews on independent sites, and note the phone number and physical address of the seller in case there’s a problem with your transaction or bill.
  • Protect your personal information. Before providing personal information, check the website’s privacy policy. Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used.
  • Make your passwords long and strong. Set different passwords for every account. Always combine uppercase and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create secure passwords.
  • Make sure the transaction is secure. Look for indicators such as the closed padlock on your browser’s address bar and a URL that begins with a “s-http” or “https.” These indicate that the transaction is encrypted and secured. Never use an unsecured wireless network to make an online purchase.
  • Keep a paper trail. Print and save records of all your online transactions, and review your credit card statements for discrepancies. If you find any unauthorized charge, report it immediately to your financial institution.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Never trust a message requesting your personal or financial information. Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email. Contact the seller directly if you are alerted to a problem. Use the contact information found on your account statement, not in the email.