11/29/10 As Cyber Monday kicks off the online holiday shopping season, officials from the Indiana Department of  Homeland Security (IDHS) and Indiana Office of Technology (IOT) are reminding Hoosiers that all online activities, including shopping, need to be done cautiously.

“The Internet has created a great atmosphere for increased business activity in Indiana and the country as a whole,” said IDHS Executive Director Joe Wainscott. “It can connect buyers and sellers from across the globe faster than ever before. Unfortunately, it can also very quickly connect criminals and other malicious individuals with upstanding citizens, and that’s something we want people to know how to avoid.”

“Shopping online is fast and convenient and while many sites are safe to shop from, buyers need to be aware of how to shop online safely,” said Brian Arrowood, Chief Information Officer, IOT.

Holiday email safety

  • Email advertisement and spam traffic may increase during the holiday season. If the subject of an email from a known or unknown sender seems suspicious, delete the email without opening it. If an advertisement or other offer sounds too good to be true, it may be. Check it out through a reliable source.
  • Never open email attachments or follow embedded links from senders whom you do not know.
  • Never convey personal information, such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, etc. in emails.

Online shopping safety

  • Keep any virus protection or other computer security software updated on the computer you intend to use for online shopping.
  • Make sure your Internet connection is secure. Before you give your payment information, check for indicators that security software is in place.
  • Use complex passwords to safeguard personal information like credit card numbers and billing addresses. A combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters (&, ^, %) offers the most protection.
  • Avoid visiting unknown web pages where malicious software could be downloaded.  Stick to shopping only well-known, reputable sites.

Safe online purchasing

  • When making online purchases with a credit or debit card, use a secure online escrow broker to provide payment.
  • If available, consider using your bank’s virtual credit card service. Virtual credit cards can only be used once and usually expire in 24 hours.
  • Make sure you print or save a soft copy of every transaction receipt in case there is confusion later about payment.