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State Banking Commissioner Reminds Holiday Shoppers to Protect Their Personal Information While Shopping On-Line

December 4, 2006

State Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin warned holiday shoppers to be careful to protect their financial 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,” said Commissioner Pitkin.  “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.” 

 “Your bank will never contact you by e-mail requesting account information.  If you receive an e-mail purportedly from your bank, call and verify its authenticity,” added Commissioner Pitkin.

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.

“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,” advised Commissioner Pitkin.

For more information please contact the Department of Banking’s Consumer Affairs Division, at (860) 240-8299, Toll-free, at 1-800-731-8225, or on-line, at