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MADISON, Wis. – With the start of the holiday shopping season just around the corner, many consumers will be looking online for bargains. Being aware of some potential risks could keep a simple online purchase from turning into a financial headache.

“The internet has made holiday shopping more convenient,” said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general and homeland security advisor. “We can easily order a book, concert tickets, and even groceries whenever we want. However, we must be vigilant to make sure we are not handing over personal financial information to cyber criminals.”

Whether you are looking for gifts or doing your regular shopping the rest of the year, consider following these steps to protect yourself online:

Consumers should only place orders through trusted online retailers. Stick to familiar sites or those with a reputation you can check out. Look for feedback posted to independent sites to help evaluate sellers.

Only shop with vendors whose websites have strong security protections in place. Look for a padlock in the status bar of your web browser and the “https://” in the address bar. Those indicate the site uses encryption designed to protect your credit card or bank account information.

Watch where you connect to the internet to shop. While smart phones have made it convenient to make purchases while on the go, shopping over public wireless networks could make it easier for thieves to access your financial information. Be careful about transmitting credit card numbers or logging into accounts over an unsecured connection.

Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. If a product is being advertised at a heavily discounted price compared to everywhere else it’s available, then there’s a good chance it’s a scam. Don’t let your desire to save money put your financial future at risk.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month in Wisconsin.  For more information, go to ReadyWisconsin at Join us on Twitter at, Facebook at, and Instagram at