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Banking Commissioner Urges Consumers to Use Precaution When Shopping Online

December 1, 2014

State Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin reminds consumers to be alert and safeguard their personal financial information when shopping online.

Purchasing gifts online has become an efficient and cost-effective way for consumers to shop for the holidays.  Cyber Monday has become known as the day that retailers offer exceptional bargains, often coupled with free shipping.  The allure of easy shopping and price discounts can cause shoppers to let their guard down when deciding where to shop online.   

“Online thieves would love for you to give them a gift this season,” stated Commissioner Pitkin.  “On the top of their list is your credit card information.  If you’re in doubt about making a purchase online, trust your gut.  Do business with stores you know or contact the business directly to verify it is legitimate.”

Consumers should be especially aware if the website does not offer an easy way to contact someone by telephone or provide a mailing address.  “Think twice about whether you want to take the risk of giving your credit card information to an online vendor you don’t already know,” advised Commissioner Pitkin.

Online shoppers should pay attention to the following tips:

  • 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 websites 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.
  • Always keep records of your online transactions.
  • Always review your monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases, which may appear as small amounts.

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