by Robert Siciliano

Online Shoppers Concerned About Identity Theft

Dec 13, 2010

Shopping online is unquestionably more convenient and efficient than traditional commerce. But is it safer?

We face risk everywhere we go. We risk car accidents on the way to the mall. Muggers and thieves present a risk. Heck, you risk catching a cold from a sniffling salesclerk!

Similarly, shopping online creates another set of pitfalls, most of which involve financial loss, credit card fraud, or certain forms of identity theft.

According to a recent study conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance, of almost 3500 United States adults surveyed, 64% have not made an online purchase from a specific website because of cybersecurity concerns. 60% said this was because they were unsure whether the specific website was secure. 51.4% worried about providing the requested information, and 48.4% felt a website requested more information than was necessary for the transaction.

When shopping online, you risk unintentionally visiting an infected website, which could infect your PC with keylogging spyware, which would be used to steal your stored data. Or, you might provide your credit card information to a legitimate online merchant that then falls victim to a data breach. Another risk is that you might order a particular product but receive something of lesser quality, or a different item entirely, and you may then have to contend with poor customer service.

Based on the potential risks, I don’t worry about shopping online. In most cases, you can protect yourself from keyloggers and malicious websites by running the newest version of your browser, keeping your antivirus software updated, and installing critical updates to your operating system.

To defend against credit card fraud, pay close attention your statements and refute any unauthorized transactions within 60 days.

The only way to avoid getting scammed by shady sites is do business only with trusted web merchants. It’s also a good idea to do an online search for the website or company’s name prior to making a purchase, since in many cases, review or opinion websites will provide background on a business’s reputation.

McAfee Identity Protection includes proactive identity surveillance to monitor subscribers’ credit and personal information, as well as access to live fraud resolution agents who can help subscribers work through the process of resolving identity theft issues. For additional tips, please visit

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss Cyber Monday on Fox.(Disclosures)