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State Banking Commissioner Urges Online Consumers to Be Alert
While Shopping During the Holiday Season

December 6, 2011

Connecticut State Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin reminded holiday shoppers to be careful to protect their personal information when making on-line purchases. 

During the holiday season, many consumers spend time browsing the Internet to find the perfect gifts.  Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people are eager to take advantage of the higher than normal volume of on-line shoppers.  Their ultimate objective is to steal personal financial information from shoppers and use their information to commit fraud.

"On-line shopping has become more secure over the past few years, but please remember that identity theft is on the rise,” stated Commissioner Pitkin.  “If your personal information falls into the wrong hands you could become a victim of identity theft.  Criminals may use your credit card number to go on a shopping spree.  Even worse, if they obtain your Social Security number they may use your information to apply for additional credit cards and damage your good credit.” 

Some actions 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.

Commissioner Pitkin concluded, “If you are uncertain if a site is secure, contact the merchant instead via phone, fax or mail to complete your holiday purchases.  You should always feel comfortable that your credit card information will remain private.”

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