State Banking Commissioner Reminds On-Line Consumers
to be Cautious While Shopping During the Holiday Season

November 28, 2005

Connecticut State Banking Commissioner John P. Burke urges holiday shoppers to be careful to protect their personal information when making on-line purchases. 

During the holiday season, many of us spend more time browsing on the Internet to find the perfect gifts.  Unfortunately, there are criminals hoping to take advantage of the higher volume of on-line shoppers.  Their goal is to steal personal financial information from unsuspecting consumers and ultimately use this information to commit fraud.

“While on-line shopping has become more secure than ever, identity theft is still on the rise,” warned Commissioner Burke.  “If your personal information falls into the wrong hands you may become a victim of this crime.  Crooks may use your credit card number to go on a shopping spree of their own.  Even worse, if they obtain your Social Security number they might use it to apply for additional credit cards and wreak havoc on your good credit.” 

Some steps consumers can take to protect themselves when shopping on-line are:

  • Do business only with merchants you know and trust. High-tech scammers use graphics or logos that appear to be legitimate, so be certain that the Web sites you visit are genuine.
  • Be suspicious of Web sites that don't allow you to easily verify a company's legitimacy by clearly providing a physical address, telephone number and e-mail address.
  • Before completing a purchase or financial transaction, be sure that the Web site you're visiting supports secure transactions. Your browser should clearly indicate when you link to a secure location. Look for a URL that begins with https:// and a browser icon displaying either an unbroken key or a closed padlock.
  • Keep records of your online transactions.
  • Review your monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases.

Added Commissioner Burke, “If you are uncertain that a site is secure, contact the retailer instead via phone, fax or mail to make your purchases.  You should always feel comfortable that your credit card information remains private.”

For more information please contact the Department of Banking’s Consumer Affairs Division, at (860) 240-8299, or toll-free, at 1-800-831-7225.