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Shopping Local Online Safely - Cyber Monday

While many may choose to order items online from big retailers this Cyber Monday, others are choosing smaller, local businesses. Online shopping is a trend that is catching on with local shops.

"If they (people) are shopping online, think local websites first, local companies," said Vice President of Goal Line Golf and Hockey, David Damrow.

Goal Line Golf and Hockey in Schofield supplies major brand name golf and hockey gear and they're no strangers to online retail.

"It's amazing how many of our sales go all over the country," said Andrew Spangber of Goal Line. He adds that they sometimes even get international orders to Canada and Europe.

In fact, Damrow said their online business continues to grow.

"We are as competitive as every other...retailer out there nation wide," said Damrow. "Our prices are as good or better than all the other retailers."

No matter which online retailer people choose to shop with, online cyber security awareness is a must. People looking to scam internet shoppers are likely to increase with the shopping holiday and they are difficult to track. Experts said the types of websites you go to are an crucial factor in keeping your transactions protected.

"It's important to know when you're shopping online to know who you're shopping with and that involves not shopping with unsolicited communications," said Executive Vice President of AbbyBank, Jenny Jakel.

Jakel offers some things to look for when checking if a site is secure. Start by looking at the retailer's web address; if it starts with "https//" then it should be a secure website. The key is the "s." If there's no "s" then the site is likely not secure. Another easy way to check if you're on a secure site is to look for a lock pad icon in the address bar. If the lock is in an open position, you're at risk; If it's closed, it should be a safe site. Also, look at the price of the item you're getting and compare it with other sites. If the offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Jakel said you should never use your account information while using open wireless networks. "When you're working on an open wireless network, it's not secured, which means that anybody could be browsing the activity that's happening on that network." These networks are in places like coffee shops, hotels and other places where there is free Wi-Fi. She adds the people looking to get at that banking information through online transactions are very tech-savvy and know more about how to gain access to that information than the average person would.

Also, while shopping online, you should monitor your credit or checking account to make sure you're only charged for what you intended to pay for. If you notice anything wrong, Jakel said to contact your banking or card provider. "The sooner you identify fraudulent activity and report it, the sooner you can stop any further activity from happening up to, including identity theft. One way to prevent major fraud is by using a credit rather than debit card. "If you're using your debit card and someone gets fraudulent access to your debit card, they could drain your checking account," said Jakel.

Other reminders she gives to cyber shoppers includes knowing your dollar-amount spending limit on your debit and credit cards. Debit cards will often deny major transactions that are over a certain amount if not preapproved. That also goes for international purchases. Make sure to alert your provider before spending.

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