Holiday shopping online is a great way to save time and sometimes money—as long as you take a few precautions to protect yourself from phishing scams and identity theft. Here are five tips for safer shopping on the Internet.

 

1.      Use an updated Web browser. Internet Explorer 7 contains many new features, such as the Phishing Filter, to help you avoid identity theft when you shop online.

 

2.      Make sure you’re on the Web site that you think you’re on. If you use Internet Explorer 7 or higher, you get an extra level of protection with Extended Validation (EV) SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates. If your address bar turns green you’ll know that you’re not on a spoofed Web site.

 

3.      Visit trusted sites or use a third-party payment service. Many online shops and auction sites will let you pay with third-party payment services, like PayPal. That way you don't have to turn over your credit card information to an unknown person.

 

4.      Use strong passwords for online shopping retailers and keep your passwords secret.

 

5.      Buy only Genuine Microsoft software. Counterfeit software can corrupt your system, make you lose data, and can lead to identity theft. If Microsoft software is on your holiday gift list this season, you can help make sure you're buying the real thing by reading the Guide to Purchasing Genuine Microsoft software.

 

For more tips, see How to shop online more safely this holiday season and What to do if you're a victim of fraud.