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Online shopping tips

Shop safely online. Just follow these simple but important tips:

Shop securely
Look for the "s" for security in the URL of the page. Make sure the web sites you are shopping from are secure and have "https" in the URL when you are in their checkout/purchase process.

The "s" ensures security. When you are in the secure section of a web site, you will also see an icon for a locked padlock on your browser, either on the address bar or on the bottom right corner.

Additionally, use the internet to research online retailers not familiar to you.

Stay current on security software
This means making sure you have the latest virus protection software updates from your security software provider. It's important because fraudsters move around frequently.

Security software companies are working to stay one step ahead of them. If you are updated, you are staying one step ahead too.

Think before you link
Employ a URL scanning tool to ensure you will be warned if you click on links that lead to infected web pages. The time to find out whether a page is bad is before you load it into your web browser.

Keep your private information private
When shopping online, create a separate email account that is just for shopping. Use a unique password, different from any other accounts you have.

Your dedicated shopping email account should be in no way affiliated with your personal, everyday email account. Also, keep records of your online shopping - print confirmation pages and email confirmations.

Mix up your passwords
Each shopping account, bank account, credit card account, and email account should have a unique password.

Unique passwords for each account make it tougher for a thief to steal your personal information.

Use common sense
Make sure you use reasonable judgment when buying online and be on the lookout for spoof stores. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Take a minute or two to make sure it's not a fake/spoof web site. If the online retailer doesn't provide a physical address, or contact phone numbers, be cautious. Make sure you understand the refund and return policies of any online retailer you are planning to buy from, especially if it's based overseas, just in case something were to go wrong.

Beware of free trials
Be cautious of sites that offer free trials where personal information and payment details (such as card information) must be provided to participate in the trial.

Prior to providing your details, carefully read the merchant’s terms and conditions including any information about how the merchant will use your information, and only provide information if you are comfortable with how it will be used.