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Tips for safe online shopping

With the holiday shopping season upon us, CPA David Young discussed some helpful tips for making safe online purchases.
With the holiday shopping season upon us, CPA David Young discussed some helpful tips for making safe online purchases Monday morning on News 8 at Sunrise.

Young said fraudsters are constantly looking to take advantage of novice online shoppers.  Common mistakes that leave people vulnerable include shopping on websites that aren't secure, giving out too much personal information and leaving computers open to viruses.

He offered up 10 tips to stay safe while online.

1. Stay away from fishy-looking websites.  Red flags include poor design, a strange or nonsensical web address and multiple pop-up windows you can't close.

2. Avoid clicking on hyperlinks embedded in emails.  The Better Business Bureau warns legitimate businesses don't send emails asking for follow-up financial information.  If an email asks you to visit an outside site, don't do it.

3. Shop on secure websites only.  Look for the "https" instead of just "http" in the address bar.  Also, be sure your computer's anti-virus software is up to date.

4. Never, ever, give out your social security number to anyone online.  If the site asks for it during the checkout process, it's probably a scam site.

5. Take advantage of the automatic identity-theft protection that comes with many credit cards.

6. Change up your passwords and avoid easy passwords that may be easy to guess.

7. Review your rights.  The Better Business Bureau reminds shoppers that if products aren't shipping on time, consumers have the right to cancel the order and get a refund.  They can also reject merchandise they deem defective or misrepresented.

8. Wield that cell phone carefully.  Public Wi-Fi access is convenient, but it can leave your personal information accessible to hackers so avoid entering passwords and credit card numbers while in public hotspots.

9. Avoid strangers on social media.  Although many retailers use social media to drum up business, sometimes their accounts get hacked and you're sent a dangerous message or tweet designed to look legitimate.

10. Don't click on fake e-cards.  E-greetings are welcomed by most people, but fake cards can spread viruses.  Delete cards that come from unfamiliar addresses.

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