With the holidays fast approaching, many consumers are going online to shop for seasonal decorations, festive foods and gifts for relatives and friends.
BY EILEEN ALT POWELL ASSOCIATED PRESS But just as there are dishonest brick-and-mortar retailers, so too are there disreputable Web merchants. There also have been rising reports of credit card fraud and identity theft to make consumers wary. Experts say some simple precautions can make online shopping about as safe as a trip to the mall. Houston lawyer Vincent I. Polley, who heads the American Bar Association's cyberspace law committee, said many of the same security rules apply online as well as off. His advice: "Shop with merchants you know. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And don't give out any information online that you wouldn't give to a retail clerk in a store." Consumers should be especially careful in dealing with holiday offers e-mailed to them, Polley said. That's because of the big increase in "phishing," a scam in which con artists send out millions of e-mails trying to get unsuspecting consumers to divulge personal information that thieves can use.