Shopping online this holiday season

Shopping online is a much easier and gas-saving alternative this holiday season, but there are many pitfalls and dangers to your personal security.

Common mistakes people make when shopping online:

  • Using the same password for multiple sites makes it easier for sensitive information to be stolen.

  • Too good to be true -- bargains certainly can be found on the Web, but if an item is offered at a price that is impossibly fantastic, be skeptical.

  • Downloading unknown attachments lets criminals steal information.

  • Falling prey to email fraud: becoming too trustworthy on the Web is a very common mistake. Don't send personal or financial information in email, and never click on links from emails to enter sensitive financial information.

  • Unsafe payment methods: Beware of sellers who ask you to wire money online.

    Ways to resolve them and avoid getting scammed:

  • Don't use the same password for multiple sites, and use a combination of numbers, letters and symbols.

  • Cover your online tracks: Use anti-virus software and regularly delete your cookies folder.

  • Don't click on links to emails that require you to enter sensitive personal or financial information.

  • Use a secure payment system that provides recourse if something goes wrong. PayPal lets you shop online without sharing your financial information.

  • Credit cards, PayPal, and services like Bill Me Later offer protections for buyers.

  • Use common sense -- if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Michael Barret is Chief of Security at PayPal for additional information about PayPal go to

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