holiday-shopping-safetyChristmas is right around the corner, which means many will be making the final push to finish shopping and arrange travel plans.

When shopping online not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year, it is important to keep security in mind. Thieves can easily gain access to bank account and personal information. These important online shopping safety tips can help keep personal information secure from hackers and online criminals.

·         Keep any virus protection or other computer security software updated on the computer that will be used for online shopping.

·         Make sure the Internet connection is secure.

·         Use complex passwords to safeguard personal information like credit card numbers and billing addresses. A combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters offers the most protection.

·         Avoid visiting unknown web pages. Stick to shopping only well-known, reputable sites.

·         If available, consider using a virtual credit card service. Many banks offer this service. Virtual credit cards can only be used once and usually expire in 24 hours.

·         Keep operating systems, browsers, and anti-virus software updated. Patches and updates for software are released when vulnerabilities have been discovered.

·         Be cautious of offers online. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Citizens that believe they are a victim of a cyber crime can take a few steps to respond and recover:

·         If there’s a problem, disconnect the device from the Internet to prevent an attacker or virus from gaining access to the system.

·         If anti-virus software is installed, update the virus definitions and perform a manual scan of the entire system.

·         Install any appropriate patches to fix known vulnerabilities.

·         File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at

In addition to being cyber smart, Hoosiers should keep the following information in mind when out shopping:

·         Be aware of surroundings in any store and the parking lot.

·         Park in a well-lit area and always keep vehicles locked.

·         Notify building security or another employee if a person or group is acting suspiciously in the store or the parking lot.

·         Do not leave wrapped or unwrapped gifts in a vehicle where others can see them. Place them in the trunk or cover them with a blanket or other object so they can’t be seen.

Looking for that last minute gift for someone who’s hard to buy for? The Indiana Department of Homeland Security encourages citizens to consider giving the gift of preparedness. All-hazards weather radios, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and vehicle preparedness kits are all gifts that every Hoosier could use.

For more online shopping and holiday safety tips, visit