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Holiday Safety Tips Series: Fraud is Not Festive

by Sgt. Jennifer S. Ross

The next topic in our Holiday Safety Series covers tips for online shopping.

Most of us are already busier than we should be without adding holiday shopping to the endless list of things we need "to do."  I don’t like considering holiday shopping a chore because that diminishes the very purpose of why I am shopping in the first place.

I try to make most of my holiday shopping a chance to spend time with friends, grab a bite, catch up and take care of our shopping lists. However, I usually end up online trying to find a certain item, like the Spiderman shoes with illuminated eyes that arrived today for my 4-year-old Godson and I know the risks. 

I have been the victim of identity fraud twice in six years but the convenience of online shopping outweighs any paranoia I may have.  It is simply a way of life for many of us, so just follow a few tips to try to reduce your risk:

  1. Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
  2. Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
  3. Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
  4. Do not click on pop-up ads for surveys, prize offers or anti-virus alerts. This is a common way for your personal information to be grabbed or your computer to be infected.
  5. After you have made your purchase, check your billing statements to monitor transactions: Immediately report any discrepancy to your bank.

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