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Kilmartin warns shoppers to protect identity on Cyber Monday

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PROVIDENCE – Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is warning Rhode Islanders to protect their identities on Cyber Monday, Nov. 26, and offering tips, including making sure their anti-virus software is up to date and only using secure websites.

According to a release, analysts predict that more than 120 million shoppers will choose to scour the Internet for deals rather than brave the Black Friday crowds.

“More and more people are buying their holiday gifts online to avoid the hustle and bustle of the mall this time of year,” said Kilmartin in a statement. “However, it is important for consumers to be vigilant, both online and at the mall.”

“Just as you keep your wallet in a safe place, it’s important to safeguard your personal information when shopping online,” added Kilmartin. “Keep in mind that while you’re looking for deals, scam artists are looking for you.”

The Attorney General’s office offered the following safety tips for Rhode Island’s online consumers:

  • Use a computer with updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software, updated spam filters and a secure firewall.

  • Use secure websites with web addresses that begin with “https.”

  • Never click on a link or open an attachment from an unknown source.

  • Online shop at a trusted business/retailer.

  • Be familiar with the policies of each website, including refund policies and shipping and handling fees.

  • Beware of deals from unsolicited emails and offers on websites offering extremely low prices on hard-to-get items.

  • Make sure the seller lists an address and phone number.

  • Pay by credit card in case you need to dispute the bill or withhold payment.

  • Print out and keep records of your purchases.

The Attorney General’s office also recommended that consumers read each site’s privacy policy to understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. “If there isn’t a privacy policy posted, it is a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without your permission,” said the release.

The release also warned shoppers about phishing attempts in emails. “Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the consumer into revealing financial information,” said the release, adding that “if you do receive such an email, call the retailer directly. Do not reply to the email and do not provide personal identifying information (i.e. your social security number, your credit card or bank account information).”

Any Rhode Islander who believes he is a victim of consumer fraud should contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Department of R.I. Attorney General at (401) 274-4400.

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