Be Alert to Dangers of Holiday Shopping Online

Many holiday shoppers will buy some, if not most, of their gifts on the Internet. According to the National Retail Federation, 50.8 percent of Americans will make at least one holiday purchase online. But as more consumers turn to the Internet to do their shopping, so do the fraudsters with their scams. 

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself when shopping online. 

  • If you’re not sure, don’t share. Anyone can set up a website these days, so be sure you’re familiar with the retailer’s site before you give them any of your financial information.
  • Is the site secure? Look for the “s” in https:// and a small padlock (in the address bar for Internet Explorer Eight) before entering any payment information.
  • Know the terms of your purchase. Is the product returnable and, if so, who pays the shipping fees? How long will the product take to ship? What does shipping cost? Read the fine print. If it’s not clear or you don’t agree, make the purchase elsewhere.
  • Print & save. Be sure to print and save the transaction receipt, the order number, a customer service phone number and any other information you can just in case there’s a problem with your order.
  • Check the privacy policy. Find out what they’re doing with your information by reading the privacy policy. If it’s too complicated to read or they don’t have one, choose to do business with a more consumer-friendly website.
  • Keep personal information private. Don’t divulge too much information to anyone on the Internet. If a website is asking for your bank account number, Social Security number or driver’s license number, don’t share it.
  • Know your rights. If you suspect you are a victim of fraud, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission at: You can also file a consumer fraud complaint with the Iowa Attorney General’s office at:  

Taking these precautions will help to prevent the spirit of the season from getting ruined by online fraud.

These tips are provided by Iowa State Bank in partnership with the Iowa Bankers Association.

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