Northwest Credit Union Association Offers 10 Tips for Safe Shopping Online –

The goal is to protect consumer finances from sneaky scammers this holiday season

It seems that just a few years ago, consumers were skeptical about shopping online, but today online shopping for everything from groceries to TVs has become the norm. But it does come with certain risks. The FBI Internet Crime Report shows cybercriminals were responsible for $ 4.1 billion in losses in 2020, with Commercial Email Compromise Programs (BECs) being the costliest for online shoppers. Northwestern Nonprofit Credit Unions have some important tips for your audiences.

As holiday shopping approaches, cybersecurity is – and should be – a top concern for consumers. Here are 10 tips to protect your data and accounts:

  • Beware of online offers that sound too good to be true. This is especially important on social networks. Many times the crooks set up fake shopping sites in order to steal your personal information and money.
  • Be smart about site security. Make sure the site you are buying from has encryption that protects your information. Look at the URL, which should read HTTPS instead of HTTP only. The “S” at the end indicates that the site has secure socket labels. You’ll also see a lock to the left of the URL, which is standard for all secure sites. The Google Chrome browser reports any unsecured site, with the designation HTTPS, and sends a warning message to the user.
  • Beware of email scams with amazing deals. And watch out for claims that there is something wrong with the delivery, especially if you don’t know the sender. Never open attachments or click links included in the email unless you can verify that the sender is legitimate.
  • Avoid shopping when connected to public Wi-Fi – it is a safe way for hackers to spy on your online activity and gain access to your personal information.
  • When possible, buy with a credit card, not a debit card. Most credit cards offer $ 0 liability for account fraud, while a debit card gives shady sellers direct access to your bank account.
  • Protect your sensitive personal information. No legitimate online retailer will ever ask for your social security number. If they do, it’s a major red flag.
  • Pay close attention to the details of the transaction, such as shipping notices and tracking information. If a retailer refuses to give details about your order, such as a ship date or order status, it is likely that you will not receive the merchandise. Report the charges to your credit card company to get your money back.
  • Check your accounts regularly to make sure that all charges are for purchases you actually made. If you see a charge that you don’t recognize, immediately notify your credit union or your credit card company.
  • Choose strong and unique passwords for your online accounts. Never use your birthdates, addresses or other personal information or those of family members that scammers can easily find online. Combine letters, numbers and special characters to create complex passwords that are difficult to crack.
  • Report suspicious activity or file a scam complaint with the United States Federal Trade Commission and the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at You will contribute to your safety and that of your fellow citizens against current and future crooks.

the Northwestern Association of Credit Unions is the trade association representing more than 175 nonprofit credit unions in Idaho, Oregon and Washington State, and their 8.1 million consumer members. As non-profit cooperatives, credit unions look after the financial well-being of their members. Everyone should open their eyes to a credit union. For more information visit: