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The Resource Center Credit Fraud & Credit Monitoring | article

Shop Wisely for Your Valentine

One of the easiest ways to go about finding that perfect something for your loved one this Valentine's Day is by avoiding the crowded malls and shopping online. Although there isn't the mad rush at the stores this time of year that there is during the Christmas holiday season, you still have a small window of time to order that bouquet of roses, that piece of fine jewelry or even just that box of chocolates before the 14th. Luckily, you can place an order from the comfort of your office desk or your home computer and, in most cases, rest assured that your gift will arrive at your loved one's doorstep safely and on time.

Whenever you shop online, however, you have to be careful that you aren't setting yourself up for identity theft — or even worse, making the person you are shopping for vulnerable to a scam. If you input information such as your bank account or credit card number online, you want to be sure that the site you are using is secure.

Distinguish a secure website from a non-secure one
Check to make sure that any online form that asks for an account number, your name or your address has a green lock present in the browser screen, as well as “https” in the site’s URL. This means that the site isn't being viewed by an outside party, who could be taking down your information and using it either to drain your bank account, use your line of credit or open up new accounts in your name.

If you aren't wary, you could be setting up your loved one for theft
You especially want to be careful when you are inputting not only your address, but that of the loved one you are having the gift delivered to. Identity thieves can commit the crime with information as basic as a home address. For instance, they could potentially steal your mail if the thief is in the area or, again, use the address to open up new accounts in your name.

Only trust names that you know
For the safety of you and your Valentine, only shop online at websites that are affiliated with stores you know or name brands that you recognize. Since most online retailers are affiliated with a brick-and-mortar establishment, verify that the website you are ordering from is the official one.

Perhaps, the best Valentine's Day gift you can get for yourself and suggest to someone you love is credit monitoring, which works as an extra set of eyes in helping to keep track of your financial activity. If the service detects certain changes in your accounts, the credit monitoring service will promptly notify you with an alert so that you can take steps to help you stay safe from potential damage to your credit score.