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Online holiday shopping: Tips for staying safe

November 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Most enticing online ads are legitimate, but with so many people shopping online this time of year, Symantec, makers of Norton Anti-Virus software, says cyber shopping is an opportunity for criminals to steal your identity and commit other cybercrimes.

"The bad guys follow people, so if everybody is online at this time of year, the bad guys are going to be there as well," said Kevin Hayley, a Symantec Security expert.

There are many important tips for safe cyber shopping. First of all, shop on secure sites only. That means look for the "https" before the link in your browser address bar before you input any personal information. Also, you can click on the yellow padlock near the address bar to verify who you're doing business with.

Never enter your social security number or passwords to bank accounts as part of the buying process. Use credit cards, instead of debit cards, that will minimize any loss if a thief takes over your account.

If shopping on the go with your tablet computer and Wi-Fi, be very careful.

"Wi-Fi is really easy to eavesdrop in," said Hayley. "You're in a location that you don't normally find yourself and it's easy for you to get online, well it's easy for the bad guy to do that as well."

Another option for online shopping on the go is to use apps on your smartphone. But again even with apps you need to be cyber safe.

"We get used to accepting ads on our phones in order to get a free game, but some of these people are taking advantage of that and giving us a lot more apps that we thought we're getting into," said Haley.

Finally, no matter what device you use or even if you go in person to shop, beware of any deals that look and sound too good to be true. They probably are.


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