22257890101_7cb64bb1c6As the holidays approach, millions of Americans will flock to their computer screens as a way to find that special hard-to-find gift, lower prices, or as a way to avoid crowded shopping malls. There are risks that consumers should be aware of when you are shopping online.

Experts stress that consumers are happy with most online shopping experiences. “It is safe, and most consumers are aware of the need to consider security online,” says Sieglinde Friedman, vice president of strategy for the Electronic Retailing Association.

There are ways to make sure you are safe when shopping online. Here a few ways you can tell websites you buy from are secure:

  1. There is a return policy. Reputable sites will have a return policy and if you don’t see one, shop elsewhere.
  2.   Prices aren’t unbelievably low. Everyone loves a bargain, but beware of prices that are far lower than other places.
  3.  The site features a padlock or unbroken key icon. Look for for icons such as a padlock or unbroken key ( usually at the top left of your browser) as a sign that encryption is used.
  4. The site has a privacy statement. Reputable sites will tell you how they protect your personal information.
  5.  Credit cards are accepted. Credit cards give you more protection than a debit card does. Suspicious sites may ask for checks or debit cards.                                                                                                                                                 Be safe this season as you do your online shopping. Make sure you have a good firewall and good anti-virus software on your computer. Daily Safety Check is a great software to prevent hackers and scammers from tapping into your computer — and trying to access your online banking and other personal data.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Photo Credit: Robbert Noordzij Online shopping via photopin (license)