Online shopping safety tips

Bay Area(KTSF by Lynne Ku) Here comes  Cyber Monday. An estimated 122 million Americans are expected to shop online for their holiday shopping list, according to National Retail Federation. Experts remind consumers to be aware of safety issues while searching for the best deals

A new trend for Cyber Monday this year is the use of mobile devices to help find deals. The California Society of CPAs warns the public it’s not a good idea to shop online with a smart phone using the public internet service. They say that computers are more vulnerable on a public wireless network and you don’t know what security is in place. Adds Murray Jennex, an information systems professor at San Diego State University: “I wouldn’t do credit card transactions on a cell phone or via Bluetooth either.”

The California Society of CPAs offers a 10-step strategies for online shopping:

Step 1: Be careful what you open up: Don’t open attachments or click on links if they seem at all suspicious. Doing so could let spyware or viruses in.

Step 2: Use and maintain anti-virus software, a firewall, and anti-spyware software. Protect yourself against viruses and Trojan horses that may steal or modify the data on your own computer and leave you vulnerable by using anti-virus software and a firewall (see Understanding Anti-Virus Software and Understanding Firewalls for more information). Make sure to keep your virus definitions up to date. Spyware or adware hidden in software programs may also give attackers access to your data, so use a legitimate anti-spyware program to scan your computer and remove any of these files (see Recognizing and Avoiding Spyware for more information).

Step 3: Stay up to date. Keep software, particularly your web browser, up to date.  Install software patches so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities (see Understanding Patches for more information). Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If this option is available, you should enable it.

Step 4: Go direct. To steer clear of websites that look like, say, or but are actually fakes set up to steal your data, don’t click on links to get to those e-commerce sites. Type the URL directly into your browser instead

Step 5: Scan for security. Once you’re checking out, be sure that you’re on a secure page. The address should begin with “https,” not “http.” The “s” indicates an encrypted connection, so even if your financial information is intercepted, it can’t be read. A gold lock on the bottom of the page signals the same thing.

Step 6: Never shop in public. Your computer is more vulnerable on a public wireless network. You don’t know what security is in place.

Step 7: Use the right card. Pay with a credit card, and by law you’ll be liable for no more than $50 in fraudulent charges. Using a debit card is stickier. Though MasterCard and Visa match the liability cap, the overall legal protections aren’t as strong. And once the money is gone from your bank account, you could face delays and hassles in getting it back.

Step 8: Get a one-time number. Several credit card issuers, including Bank of America, Citibank, and Discover, will give you an account number that becomes invalid after one use. (Call customer service to find out more.) If anyone steals that number, it’s useless.

Step 9: Work with a middleman. You can store your credit card or bank account information with a third-party payment system and let that site deal with the store. PayPal is the most widely used; Google Checkout is similar, though fewer sites accept it.

Step 10:  Do additional research. For more information, please refer to the California Society of CPAs’ web site where feel tools and other resources are available to consumers at:

Or go to the US Government Web site from Homeland Security at:

(Copyright 2011 Bay City News.  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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