From Sheriff David A. Mahoney                           

            Phone - 884-3168

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Don’t Let The Grinch Steal Christmas,

Online Shopping

Just as the Grinch tried to steal the Christmas from the residents of Whoville, modern day Grinches will try to steal your Christmas.  For the next several weeks, I will be devoting the Sheriff’s Corner on how to protect yourself from criminals who prey upon people during the holiday season.  This week, I will be discussing how to protect yourself while shopping online for gifts. 


Falling victim to an online scam can be take the spirit out of any holiday and with more and more people doing their shopping online, the risk of being taken by a cyber-criminal is on the rise.  There are several ways you can protect yourself when shopping online.  First, never use your debit card.  Debit cards are tied directly to your checking account and before you know it, a thief can wipe out your entire checking account.  Instead use a loadable credit card that you load with the amount of money that you need to complete your purchase. These cards are not tied to your checking account and if a thief does get the number, they can only get the amount that is on the card.  The best way to use these cards is to load the card with the exact amount that you need to make the purchase including shipping, handling and tax, then make your purchase.  This way if a cyber-thief obtains the number, they aren’t going to get anything.  The only problem with loadable cards is that they don’t offer the protections that traditional credit cards do.  They are better than using your debit card but not as good as using your bank issued credit card.  Bank issued credit cards are the best way to make an online purchase.  When your credit card is stolen and used fraudulently, the money used isn’t actually yours — it’s the bank’s money. Your money is still sitting in your checking account, safe and sound. You can dispute the charges and have them removed from your credit statement without ever putting your money at risk.  Lastly, make sure the site you are shopping on is a legitimate site.  Cyber-criminals are pretty good at making a phony site look like the real thing.  If you are shopping for a high dollar item and find it for a really cheap price, make sure that you check the site out.  Shop only reputable sites that require a very strong password.  Lastly, make sure your computer is updated with the latest security software.  Even if you are shopping at a reputable site, cyber-criminals are phishing the web looking for ways to get into your computer and steal your identity, credit or debit card numbers or your banking information.  During the holiday shopping season, keep a close check on your bank account for unauthorized purchases.