It’s that time of year again — when scary Halloween goblins and ghost costumes have been relegated to the clearance shelves and glowing candles, sparkling snowflakes and jingling bells take center stage in stores across the nation. The holiday shopping season is upon us as millions of Americans begin their quest to find the perfect holiday gifts for their friends and family.

Not all of this shopping will take place in malls and retail centers. According to Pew Research, 79 percent of Americans do at least some of their shopping online.

If you’re one of the online shoppers, keep in mind that thieves like to take advantage of consumers at this time of year. They exploit the giving nature of the season and turn the elevated stress levels and hectic schedules of people to their advantage. It’s important that consumers know how to protect themselves from threats that exist on the web. Here are some tips to keep your online shopping experiences safe:

  • Secure your computer by updating your security software. Every computer should have antivirus software, antispyware and antispam software, as well as a good firewall.
  • Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Don’t respond to any requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses won’t ask for this information.
  • Beware of bargains from unfamiliar companies. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the locked padlock icon at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address. They indicate that you are dealing with a secure website. FYI, if you are purchasing holiday floral arrangements or wreath, our website, is a secure website.
  • Shop with companies you know and trust. Check a company’s background if you’re not familiar with it.

For more information about how to protect yourself from online fraud and identity theft, visit the National Crime Prevention Council’s website at or the Federal Trade Commission’s website at