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Shop Safely This Holiday Season

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Lots of people will be doing their holiday shopping online, which creates opportunities for phishing, malware, and scams. But there are things you can do to make your online shopping more secure.

Be careful about emails. Some malicious activity comes in the form of holiday greetings. Only open emails from people and companies you know. Even then, it is best not to click on web links inside emails; go out to your browser and access the website there. If an email doesn’t look completely legitimate, even a personal one, check it out with the sender first.

Know your charities. Bad guys will take advantage of your generosity with appeals that pull on the heartstrings. If you see a charity you want to donate to, they will take it if you visit their website directly or send them a check.

Secure your system. Think of your computer, tablet or phone as a house: don’t leave the door unlocked. Here are some security issues you will want to consider:

•  Is your wi-fi connection password-protected?
•  Do you have a good antivirus program? How about malware detector? Ad and pop-up blockers?
•  Is your operating system and all your software updated/patched? This includes your browser, browser plug-ins, and any external programs you may use.
•  Did you know that attachments can carry viruses?

Only use secure sites. Even if your system is relatively secure—no system is perfect—websites you visit may not be. Sites whose web addresses begin with https (rather than http) are more secure. Take any warnings about security certificates seriously.

Monitor your accounts. Look at your credit card and checking accounts online very often. If you see suspicious activity, report it immediately.

Security risks may also come to you in the form of fake ads, messages inside of social media programs, and phone calls.

Hackers and online thieves are very good at what they do. A little extra care could save you time, money, and hassle.

More information is at the website for the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. For users of mobile devices, additional precautions are recommended.

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