Staying safe while shopping online

Online shopping scams have been around since the existence of the internet.

More and more people are turning to the internet to shop instead of having to fight with crowds in stores, but there are unfortunately pitfalls to shopping online.

"There are cyber criminals out there, and they are coming up with new techniques and tactics everyday to fool their potential victims and of course they want to extort money," said Debby Whiston, a Human Environmental Sciences Specialist.

When shopping online, it's important to pay attention to the website, especially if it is one you have never used before.

"It's happening all of the time. And one of the main reasons is that it's anonymous. They can put these websites up and take them down within a couple of hours and scam people very quickly," Whiston added.

There used to be a time when you could identify a fake website, because they would be loaded with poor grammar and spelling. Now, scammers have up-ed their game and it is nearly impossible to determine a fake from a legitimate site. When going to the site, make sure the URL contains HTTPS. The 'S' stands for secure. If questioning a site, it is always good to check out retailer ratings on the Better Business Bureau.

"If you type in Better Business Bureau and go to that site, it will say check for legitimate business," said Whiston.

It is also a good idea to use a credit card instead of a debit card when making purchases.

"A lot of people like to use their debit card, but when you when you are shopping online use your credit card. And the reason for doing that is with a credit card your liability for fraudulent charges cap at $50 as long as you report the fraud within 30-60 days.

If you notice any strange transactions on your bill, you are encouraged to contact your credit card company and bank immediately to get those transactions removed.

When setting up an account to purchase an item online, be sure to use a case-sensitive password that includes both letters and numbers to assure that hackers will not be able to steal your identity. You can protect both your identity and your money while shopping online by being cautious and buying from secure sites.