Sycamore police advise caution for online shoppers this holiday season

A consumer looks at Cyber Monday sales on her computer in Nov. 29, 2010. Retailers rolled out online deals during this year's "Cyber Monday." But now that shoppers are online all the time anyway, the 10-year-old shopping holiday is losing some of its luster.

SYCAMORE – Credit cards, not saving card information on a website and checking website legitimacy are all ways Sycamore police recommend online holiday shoppers take caution against potential scammers this season.

The Sycamore Police Department is advising area holiday shoppers to make smart decisions when making online purchases this holiday season.

“As the holidays approach and many choose the conveniences of online shopping, the Sycamore Police would like to remind shoppers to avoid the risks that accompany online purchases,” said Sycamore police in a Monday news release.

The department suggests using a credit card or pre-paid credit card when making online purchases because a debit card – if compromised – could give an online criminal the ability to drain money from your bank account. Credit card companies typically limit a card carrier’s losses in fraud causes that are promptly reported.

When making purchases online, police said it’s worth checking the security of a website.

Some websites might mirror legitimate online merchant but could actually fraudulent, police said. According to the news release, secure websites will begin with https://.

The department also advised against storing card information with an online merchant.

“While convenient and quicker for subsequent purchases, a data breach of an online merchant could expose your personal information,” the news release states.

Police also advised online shoppers to ensure purchases are scheduled to be delivered to a secure location, that can be promptly retrieved.

“Would-be thieves identify residences that receive packages with nobody home,” the release states. “Once delivered, they steal the package. If you will not be home, consider having your package shipped to your work or a friend that is home to receive it,” the release said.

Some shipping companies provide a text message notification upon package delivery and others offer tracking from the moment an order ships, both options are intended to help minimize the opportunity for a would-be thief to steal a package.

In order to help reduce the theft of holiday packages, the Sycamore Police Department advises the public to call the police if a car or person is notice loitering near an unoccupied house.

“If something doesn’t seem right with the website or the process to receive your purchase, consider if it would be safer to delay buying the item until you can verify the security of your purchase,” the release said.