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State Banking Commissioner Urges Online Consumers
To Be Careful While Shopping During the Holiday Season

December 6, 2012

State Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin reminds holiday shoppers to protect their personal financial information when online shopping. 

“This time of year, many of us spend more time browsing the internet to find the perfect gift,” said Commissioner Pitkin.  “Even though online shopping has become more secure, we must still remain cautious whenever we provide our personal financial information. By sticking with reputable stores and being a little savvy, we can avoid becoming victims of online scammers.”

The following tips will help online consumers protect their personal information: 

  • Always keep records of your online transactions.
  • Always review your monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases.
  • Do business only with merchants you know and trust. High-tech scammers use graphics or logos which appear to be legitimate, so be certain the Web sites you visit are genuine.
  • Be suspicious of websites 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 website 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.

Added Commissioner Pitkin, “If a website is not secure any personal information is vulnerable and sadly, there are people out there whose ultimate objective is to steal personal financial information from shoppers and use the information to commit fraud.”

“Criminals may use your credit card number to go on a shopping spree of their own,” stated Commissioner Pitkin.  “You should always feel comfortable that your credit card information will remain private when making an online transaction.  If you are uncertain if a site is secure, contact the merchant instead via phone, fax or mail to complete your holiday purchases.”

For more information please contact the Department of Banking’s Consumer Affairs Division, at (860) 240-8170, or 1-800-731-8225, or visit