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Five tips for safe online shopping during the holidays

Shopping cart with gift box on laptop. Concept of shopping onlinOnline shopping has reached a record high this year while in-store retail traffic continues to decline. Do you love to shop online during the holiday season? Here are five important ways to help protect your personal information.

Always looks for the https:// at the beginning of the websites you visit. That extra letter ‘s’ is there to let you know that you’re visiting a site that uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) security. Never input credit card information or any other sensitive personal data into a web site that starts in any other way. (For example, a site that begins with http:// is NOT secure – even if it has a lock icon next to it.)

Do your online shopping only from a secure online network. A wireless network in a public place is not guaranteed to be secure. Try to avoid online activities that require a login or the use of a credit card, such as reading e-mail, checking your bank account balance or shopping online, while using public wi-fi. Scammers can ‘eavesdrop’ on your online activities and steal your personal information if you’re using public wi-fi.

Don’t click email links to redirect to shopping websites. Links in emails, social media posts and text messages are often used by cybercriminals trying to steal your information or infect your devices. Instead, open your web browser and go directly to web sites.

Keep your computer hardware, software, and other systems current. Did you know that staying caught up with the latest Internet browser version can help protect you while you’re online? At the very least, always try to use the latest versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari. Each is designed to help steer you away from risky web sites.

Watch those apps. Apps are great, but they also are a way for companies to collect information about you. Try to give out as little of your personal information as required to use the app. Only download apps from a trusted source.