As we kick off the true meaning of Christmas in America—retail madness—are you and your kids being safe online?  We’d love to hear from you about how you’re keeping your kids, and yourselves, from being scammed as you shop online for your friends and love ones.  In the mean time, here are a few quick tips from the folks at Microsoft:

  • Look for signs that the business is legitimate.
  • Find out what other shoppers say. Sites like or BizRate have customer evaluations which can help you determine a company’s legitimacy.
  • Look for third-party seals of approval. Companies can put these seals on their sites if they abide by a set of rigorous standards such as how personal information can be used.  If you see the seals, click them to make sure they link to the organization that created them. Some unscrupulous merchants will put these logos on their websites without permission.
  • Look for signs that the website protects your data.  On the web page where you enter your credit card or other personal information, look for an “s” after http in the web address of that page (https://). (Encryption is a security measure that scrambles data as it traverses the Internet.)  Also make sure there is a tiny closed padlock in the address bar, or on the lower right corner of the window.
  • Use a filter or security program that wants you of suspicious websites.
  • Keep your security software and web browser updated.
  • Create strong passwords, and don’t reuse your passwords across all shopping accounts.
  • Also be aware that your kids can use apps to make purchases through their mobile devices.  The safest way to go is to keep your kids away from making purchases through their mobile devices; talk to your mobile provider about blocking the feature that allows them to do this.