Shopping online this holiday season

October 20, 2008 4:30:11 PM PDT
Shopping online may save you time and gas this holiday season, but there may be some personal identity risks. Michael Barret, chief of security for Paypal, has some tips for protecting our money and our personal information.

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