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Shop Safe this Season
With holiday shopping going on by mail, phone and the Internet, here are a few things you can do to stay safe and protect yourself from fraud.
- Check out the seller.
Be sure anyone selling through the Internet and mail has a physical address, phone number and clearly posted policies relating to payment, funds, delivery schedules and the privacy of your information. If you are making a purchase online, make sure your computer has up-to-date spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall. Look in the address box for the "s" in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the lock symbol before paying.
- Be wary of unsolicited phone calls.
Thieves sometimes pose as well-known retailers, offering special deals available only by phone. Shop by phone only when you make the call, and to a merchant you know and trust.
- Don't email financial information.
Email isn't that secure, and legitimate sellers won't request payment in this manner.
- Don't open suspicious attachments.
Some Internet identity thieves will send spam emails offering unbelievable bargains on items like digital cameras and computers. The email includes an attachment that promises to explain how to obtain the item. By opening the attachment, you download a program the searches your computer for personal information and transmits the data to the thief.
- Be careful using unfamiliar ATMs.
Make sure ATMs are well lit and visible to passers-by. Use ATMs located inside an open business whenever possible, and avoid areas that experience a lot of foot traffic where your PIN, etc. can be observed.