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It’s the silly season, that time of the year where everybody is relaxed and easy-going spending lots of time out-doors, not only is there an increase in the fun activities there is usually an increase in crime, accidents and mishaps as well.

With the advent of online shopping, many consumers are avoiding the hustle and bustle of the shopping mall and are searching for the ultimate gift at the perfect price from the comfort of their homes. Online shopping offers many advantages: it can be a real time-saver as it allows you the convenience of sourcing the best price without having to traipse from store to store.

It is however important to be aware of online security and to make informed choices.
Online security matters. So as your holiday shopping begins, ask yourself the following questions before transacting online:

1. Do I know the site?
Always opt for a trusted online shopping site, rather than simply using a search engine to find your product on any page it throws up. Search results can be paid for and rigged to lead you astray. If you know the site, chances are it’s less likely to be a scam. If you’re not sure- search the name of the company online to make sure it is a legit online store. Well known and established websites are also more likely to offer you a reputable payment system, like PayPal, that uses powerful encryption methods to protect your financial information.

2. Is the site trusted?
If a site does not have an SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed, keep your credit card firmly in your wallet. You will know the site is protected if the URL starts with https:// (instead of just http://). An icon representing a locked padlock will typically appear in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar, depending on your browser.

3. Is my password strong enough?
Using an uncrackable password is never more important than when banking and shopping online. Think of your password as your bank PIN: You don’t want it falling into the wrong hands. Use different passwords on different websites and also pay attention to your surroundings when typing your password- you don’t want to type it in your computer where everyone can see it.

4. Am I giving away too much information?
The more crooks know, the easier it is to steal from you. When possible, default to giving up the least amount of information. Online commerce creates a world of opportunities for buyers and sellers, but one must be cautious what information he is sharing online, in particular when it comes to sharing financial details.

5. How can I detect fraudulent activity?
Go online regularly during the holiday season and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges. If you do, address it immediately.

6. Which payment method should I use?
Always prefer a reputable online payment method to ensure the safety of your finances.

7. Is it important where I log in to the internet?
Yes, make sure not to share sensitive information when using public networks, particularly open Wi-Fi networks such as the ones available in cafes.

Source: Article courtesy of Ventureburn.com – Online Safety tips