Be a safe Internet shopper

Last week, I wrote about the importance of being a smart Internet shopper. Today, I want to address online security. Identity theft typically increases during the holidays as shoppers use credit more often in stores and make more purchases online. The Internet is becoming a more and more popular place to have your identity stolen as the new generation of thieves are becoming more tech savvy. December 15 is "Green Monday," which is said to be one of the biggest online shopping days of the season; even bigger than Cyber Monday, and a perfect opportunity for identity thieves to hack into your personal information.

Consider the following when shopping online:

Protect your equipment. Install the latest virus protection software.
Shop secured sites. Before clicking the "Buy Now" button, make sure the URL of the Web site you're shopping on begins with "https://" and there's a locked padlock on the page.
Pay by credit card. Using a credit card is the safest way to shop online. The Fair Credit Billing Act gives you the right to dispute credit card purchases, and in most cases will only hold you responsible for the first $50 in charges.
Read your statements. Pay close attention to your credit card bills and make sure there aren't any unauthorized charges.
Create smart passwords. Don’t use social security numbers as your password, and don’t save passwords in your web browser without a master password to protect them.

Identity theft is recognized as a serious social issue by agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, the FBI and the United States Secret Service. For more information about protecting your good name, visit or

Tanisha (Warner) Smith is a former communications manager at MMI.