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Protecting yourself while shopping online

Posted at 7:10 PM, Nov 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-24 07:38:46-05

Millions of people will be hunkering down to do their Christmas shopping from home this weekend.

With the data breach at Michigan State University fresh in mind, it’s fair to wonder how safe your personal information is when you buy something.

While many shoppers will be visiting stores, millions of Americans head online to shop.

“I’ll try to pick up some things from Amazon and get cyber Monday deals,” said online shopper James Jackson.

But shopping online can put your personal information at risk.

“For me it’s trying to use cards with low credit amount limits so that hopefully nobody walks off with a lot of money,” said Laura Gossiaux.

Jeff Dettloff is the president of Providence, a Lansing computer services company who says thieves are only getting better at what they do.

“They're getting smarter, faster, and they build on that knowledge,” said Dettloff. “They pass it around and it’s a much dangerous world than it was just a year ago.”

Before making a purchase, check the website's address. If it says “HTTPS://,” you're using a secure website. If the "s" is missing and the address looks like “HTTP://” when checking out, stop the transaction immediately.

Thieves are also tricking you by designing Android apps that looks similar to a retailers in hopes you'll make a purchase through it which would give thieves your financial information.

“The iTunes store is more secure and the apps go through a different process to get approved,” said Dettloff. “There are other ways that people get apps on their phone it can be dangerous.”

Bottom line use caution shopping online ... It's okay to be paranoid.

“There are a lot of bad guys and there are lots of different schemes so pay attention and have a healthy dose of paranoia,” said Dettloff.

Scammers will also send e-mails with links to phony web sites.

As a general rule, don't click a link in an e-mail even if it's from someone you know.

It's also a good idea to make sure you have a strong password and a different one for each web site.

A good password contains at least 10 characters and includes upper and lower case letters along with numbers.