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Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

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On Monday, millions of Americans will log on to their computers, tablets or smart phones to perform online shopping as part of Cyber Monday. Unfortunately, so will cyber criminals and hackers, who are seeking to exploit shoppers to obtain credit card and financial information.

With the increasing threat of cyber scams and other online shopping fraud, it is important for everyone to practice safe online behavior on Cyber Monday, throughout the holidays, and every day.

Below are some tips for shopping online safely.

  • Keep a Clean Machine. All the devices you use for shopping, including smartphones and tablets,
    should have up‐to‐date software including security software, operating systems, programs and apps.
  • When in Doubt, Throw it Out. Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way
    cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
  • Think Before You Act. Be wary of communications that offer amazing deals that sound too good to be
    true, or request you to act immediately, including those about a problem with an order or payment or ask
    you to view the website via a provided link.
  • Get Savvy about Wi‐Fi Hotspots. Don’t share personal or financial information over an unsecured
    network (a connection that doesn’t require a password for access). Using the direct web access on your
    phone (via a 3G/4G connection) is safer than an unsecured wireless network when on your mobile device.
  • Make Sure the Site is Legitimate. This includes a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar or
    a URL address that begins with shttp or https. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured.
  • Protect your Personal Information. Be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete
    the transaction. Make sure the information requested is only that needed to complete the transaction.
    Only fill out required fields on checkout forms. Check the website’s privacy policy. Make sure you
    understand how your information will be stored and used.
  • Use Safe Payment Options. Credit cards are generally the safest option because they allow buyers to
    seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered. Never send cash through the mail.
  • Keep a Paper Trail. Save records of your online transactions, including the product description, price,
    online receipt, terms of the sale, and copies of email exchanges with the seller. Read your credit card
    statements as soon as you get them to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized charges. If there is a
    discrepancy, call your credit union or bank and report it immediately.
  • Monitor Your Accounts for Unauthorized Transactions. Monitor your Heartland accounts, as well as your other financial accounts, from Heartland Online Banking. With the new “My Finances” tool you can view all of your accounts in one location – making it easier to protect yourself against unauthorized transactions.

Source: StaySafeOnline.org