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Having a budget, plan can keep your family's finances safe during Holiday shopping frenzy

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 27 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

To protect against credit card fraud, identity theft or other cybercrime, search for signs of approval, said Marian Merritt, Internet safety advocate for online security company Norton. "Trustmarks," such as the Better Business Bureau logo, show the retailer has been verified and the site is likely free from malware, she said.

"Look for HTTPS and the color green in your browser address bar before entering your personal information," Merritt said. "Also, use a credit card, not a debit card, for added protection as a consumer."

If there is a dispute with a retailer regarding a purchase, a credit card company will work on the consumer's behalf before people have to pay for the purchase, while using a debit card provides instant payment that would have to be refunded by the retailer.

Avoid storing credit card information on retailer websites and be cautious on public Wi-Fi networks as they can be virtual playgrounds for cybercriminals, she said.

Merritt instead suggested using a personal VPN (virtual private network) or waiting to use a protected network before buying anything online.

Avoid spam's hidden surprises by always being cautious of any emails receive from unknown recipients or that seem too generous, she added.

Beware mobile adware

Lastly, threats on mobile devices are increasing and becoming more sophisticated, so beware of mobile apps may feature unwanted aggressive advertising known as "madware" or mobile adware, Merritt said.

She recommends using a security solution and adware tool for smartphones, tablets, laptops and home computers to them protected.

"Your phone is not just a communications device or browser," Merritt said. "It contains lots of information about you … including your social networking accounts, probably information about your online banking and e-commerce. As a result, if you lose the phone or if someone were to infect it or spy on your activity, then they could glean a lot of information about you."

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

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