Cyber Alert: Identity Theft

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It's easier than ever to buy all of our holiday gifts without even leaving our homes. Online shopping is booming, but unfortunately, so is identity theft.

Just as we'd take precaution protecting our pin numbers at the bank, online shoppers need to take similar precautions in order to stay safe on the Internet.

The first thing to remember when shopping online is to always shop at secure websites. If you look at the top of the screen where the web address is displayed, you should see "HTTPS." The "s" means the website is secure and your information is safe.

When placing your order, always use a credit card. This is the safest way to buy something because if anything does go wrong, you are protected under the Federal Fair Credit Billing Act. This means you have the right to dispute any charges on your card that you didn't make. Also, make sure that your credit card is a true credit card. Debit cards are not protected by the federal law to the same extent as credit cards. If the information falls into the wrong hands, it may expose your entire bank account to online thieves.

Another safety tip is to check your credit card bills for several months after making an online purchase. If you see a purchase you didn't make, contact your credit card company to file a dispute claim.