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Now that Thanksgiving is over, the holiday shopping season is upon us! This Monday, December 2nd is Cyber Monday. The biggest online shopping day of the year! Online shopping is fun, convenient, safe and cost-effective – provided you take proper precautions before making your purchase. 

Here are some simple tips to keep in mind when shopping online this holiday season before you share your credit card information with your favorite e-commerce site!

• Only trust sites that are encrypted. Not all online sites offer safe shopping. Limit your purchases to encrypted websites and only on a trusted and secure WiFi network. Look for a padlock symbol on the URL bar, and next to your WiFi network’s name.

• Protect personal information. It’s pretty normal for online retailers to ask for additional details to personalize your shopping experience. However, if they ask for too much info, like your social security number, click off the site!

• Use unique passwords for each site. Using the same password on every site can raise your risks. If your password is stolen on one site, all of your accounts could be compromised. Many OS systems, like Apple’s, will generate unique passwords for each website’s login, and save them on your system.

• Look for the “S”! Any time you input personal or credit card info make sure the site is secure. The fastest way? Check the URL. A secure site will start with https:// (not http://) and have a padlock symbol in the URL bar signifying a secure site.

• If it’s too good to be true… Be wary of “sale-of-the-century” prices. When items are priced significantly lower than they should be, it should raise a red flag. Low prices are enticing, but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

• Make sure customer service information is visible, or easy to find. Safe sites will prominently display a toll-free customer service number, email address, and refund and exchange policy. Being open with this information is often a good indicator of authenticity and credibility.

• Check your credit card statement. Look at your credit card statements after you’ve received your item. It’s always a good practice to make sure you were properly charged and that there were no hidden charges or unfamiliar transactions.

Online shopping is fast, convenient and safe when you take the proper precautions. These tips can make sure that your holiday season is happy, safe and secure!

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