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When it comes to picking an online retailer, you’ve got plenty of options. Often, shoppers choose recognizable retailers like Walmart or Amazon. These sites tend to be safe since they have more resources dedicated to securing their online transactions.

But sometimes lesser-known sites pop up with better deals on popular holiday purchases such as televisions, computers, gaming systems, and gift cards. Not all of these sites are trustworthy; scammers sometimes set up fake retail sites that claim to offer popular items in order to steal your information. Beware of domain name scams that mimic legitimate retailers with misspelled or .net URLs.

secure websites

Here are some tips for finding secure retail Web sites:

  • Check the address. Some scammers will mimic the URLs of legitimate sites (for example, instead of in an attempt to steal payment information or distribute malware.
  • Lock it up. Look for a padlock icon in your browser’s address or status bar, and check that the URL begins with “https”. These two things indicate that the site, and any data you send to it, is protected by SSL/TLS encryption.
  • Watch for warnings. If your browser notifies you about a certificate error on a Web page, don’t provide any information to that site. These errors indicate intercepted connections or questionable sites.
  • Know your stuff. Research online retailers before choosing to shop with them. Look for things like BBB accreditation, ratings, and complaints.
  • There’s no rush. Beware of sites or ads that try to rush you into a snap purchase by offering a crazy deal or a limited-time offer.
  • Be realistic. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Double-check the authenticity of the site using the other suggestions on this list.
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