Tips for secure online holiday shopping

LEWISTON, ID - The holiday season is here and for many that means shopping online for some holiday bargains.

But as shoppers turn to their laptops, iPads and mobile phones to get items crossed off their list, thieves are on the prowl to hack into systems to obtain customer information.

As of Monday, several cases of credit card fraud had already been reported to the Lewiston Police Department who urges everyone to make sure they're using a secure site before entering any customer information.

"Never give out that kind of information unless you are very sure of where it's going," said LPD Lieutenant Budd Hurd. "Once it's out there, you can't always retrieve it back."

Lewiston Police Department Lieutenant Budd Hurd said two sites to avoid are E-bay and Craigslist. He said it's also very important not to send money by mail or fill out money orders online.

Here are some more tips for secure online shopping:

- Use credit cards not debit card if possible as credit cards offer greater liability protection.
- Designate one credit card for online purchases, or use a pre-paid or "one-time" virtual credit card number.
- Secure mobile phones used for shopping. Back them up regularly and enable security features such as password and inactivity time lock and if available, enable data encryption and anti-virus applications.
- Be cautious when shopping on the go; don't reveal private financial data over shared wireless access points such as at coffee shops.
- Never give a credit card number over the phone unless you have initiated the transaction and know the company is trustworthy.
- Never link a bank account to an online pay service such as PayPal. Hackers could break into the PayPal account and drain money from the linked bank account.
- Protect your computer with the latest browser, anti-virus, anti-malware, and personal firewall protection, and update regularly.
- Look for a secure checkout, one that displays "https" or a padlock in your browser address bar.
- Look for a secure checkout, one that displays "https" or a padlock in your browser address bar.
- Be aware of email scams that include website links advertising incredible deals.
- Leave suspicious websites immediately. Don't click on any of the site's buttons or download software.
- Check your bank and credit card accounts frequently to make sure each transaction is yours.