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7 Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

Consumers using the web this holiday season are at higher risk of identity theft and hacking due to thousands of unsafe and malicious websites posing as vendors. With attacks becoming more pervasive and sophisticated, we as consumers need to be cautious when looking for deals online over the next few weeks. Here are some ways to protect yourself while shopping online so you can take advantage of deals without being taken advantage of by hackers:

  1. Create unique usernames and passwords or pass phrases. Often times we choose a password that is easy to remember which makes it easier for the bad guys to crack. Try instead a passphrase such as “The2ndD00rIsLocked!” This will be long enough for the minimum character count and utilizes numbers, unique characters, and a combination of upper and lower case.
  2. Read Reviews. Type the name of the product or company into a search engine along with words like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” Do not rely on a single source - be sure to read a few reviews. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 
  3. Don’t Shop on Public Wi-Fi. When making online purchases, be sure to shop on secure Wi-Fi at home instead of a coffee shop, airport, or other public network. If you must shop while on the go, use a mobile device with a data plan or a personal hot spot created from your phone. 
  4. Use secure checkout. Don’t click the “purchase” button without making sure the site you’re shopping on is secure. Check the address for “https” - the “s” means secure. That means the site is protecting your credit card information. 
  5. Know the terms. Find out the return and exchange policies for any online retailer you shop at. 
  6. Monitor Your Bank Account! This time of year, consumers are often making an unusually higher number of purchases and should take an extra look at their bank accounts and statements for fraudulent charges. Don’t ignore small purchase amounts as this could be a precursor or test for larger fraudulent transactions.
  7. Be Aware of Links. Thousands of malicious mobile apps and misleading landing pages put users at risk of being hacked. When shopping online, make sure you are shopping on a store's actual website before inputting any personal information or a credit card number. 

If you have problems during a transaction, try to work them out directly with the seller, buyer or site operator. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with: 

For more security tips, visit our Security Center.