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Cyber Monday marked the beginning of an annual online shopping spree, where online shoppers hurry from site to site, looking for great deals and exclusive offers from online stores. While it’s a great way to skip the long lines, it can also be a time where credit card fraud, hackers, and scammers run rampant.  Here are some tips with words of caution for you as you make your online purchases. Tips to help fight crooked online retailers, scammers and hackers: Guard your Computer Make sure your computer has been updated with the most recent versions of spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and has a secure firewall. Make sure you’re shopping on a trusted website Shoppers should check the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. Make sure the site is real: there are some sites out there that copy seals to appear genuine. Keep your personal information private Read the Privacy Policy and get a handle on what kind of personal information you will need to reveal and how it will be used. If you can’t find a privacy policy on the site, that is a huge sign that the site may be unsafe and your information may end up getting used or sold without your permission. Be cautious of “too good to be true” deals When you find offers online with extremely low prices on high-demand, expensive items, it can sound too good to be true…and it usually is. Make sure to trust your gut and don’t be afraid to forgo deals that could end up costing you much more in the end. Look out for Phishing If you get an email from a business claiming they have issues with your order or your account, and if they ask you to reveal any financial information, we recommend calling the contact number on the site where your purchase was made, just to make sure there really was a problem with the transaction in the first place. Confirm your online purchase is secure When you are making a payment online, make sure you check the URL on the top of your screen for the “s” in https:// and look for the “lock” icon in the lower right-hand corner. If you have some questions on the security of the site, we recommend right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real web address and the dialog box will reveal if the site is encrypted or not. Save your order confirmationsWhen you complete your order online, make sure to save the final confirmation page and any confirmation emails received. Just in case an issue comes up with your order, it’s always good to have a record of your order on hand for future reference.

We hope that you have a safe online holiday shopping experience this season!

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