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Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

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On Cyber Monday, you don't have to worry about being trampled for the door buster deals.  Shopping from the comfort of your own home sounds appealing, but it does come with some dangers of its own.

The popularity of online shopping typically peaks during the holidays.  Experts expect over $1 billion to be spent on Cyber Monday this year, but before you continue clicking away, there are a few tips to keep in mind that could keep your identity and bank account safe.

'Tis the season to be extra careful.  University of Virginia information security analyst Karen McDowell says only focusing on the best deals could put you at risk.

"The most common mistake is clicking before they think and surrendering personal information - just entering information into a website because I might get a deal," McDowell said.

The best ways to keep your money safe is to use different and strong passwords for each site, be careful clicking on shopping ads that pop up on Facebook or other social media networks, don't order from your mobile phone, and never use your debit card.

McDowell said, "A credit card you have more protection because it's not a direct hit, so definitely use a credit card online, and only use a credit card if you absolutely trust the website."

Many have turned to online shopping to steer away from the crowds, but others do their shopping the old fashioned way.

Landry Gray, who doesn't shop online, said, "The way that they handle it they just drop it off on your doorstep and people could come and take it, plus there's a lot of identity fraud going around. I just like to go out and buy my stuff and bring it home."

Those who do shop online say they remain cautious, and for good reason.

"Do you want to lose your money or not? I mean do you want to be able to buy presents again? How important is your dollar to you?" said online shopper Jose Otero.

Some of McDowell's most important advice is to simply think before you click.

Third party paying systems like PayPal have also proven to be safe methods.  Around the holidays, shipping scams are the ones to look out for.  Emails claiming to be from FedEx or UPS have attachments that can be dangerous if opened.

Click here for more information about strong passwords.

Click here and here for more on general security information.

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