Online Shopping Tips for Protecting Your Privacy This Holiday Season

December 9, 2013

As more and more Albertans turn to online shopping for their holiday purchases, Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton is reminding consumers to be vigilant about protecting personal information from cyber-crooks.

Privacy tips for online shopping

  • Research online merchants, looking at privacy and security policies and customer ratings prior to making a purchase.
  • Only enter personal information on secure websites. The website address will be preceded by “https” if secure and a closed padlock will appear beside it.
  • Reputable merchants usually send an email confirming your order. If you do not receive an email confirmation, follow up with the merchant immediately.
  • Use a low limit credit card for online purchases and one that provides you with specific guarantees, such as 100% coverage for any losses due to fraud when shopping online.
  • Make sure your computer security is up-to-date to protect against spyware, adware, malware and other Internet attacks.
  • Create strong passwords, including numbers, symbols and upper- and lower-case letters, and use a different username and password on each website you shop to limit risk if your personal information is compromised.
  • Never pay bills, bank, or shop on a public or shared computer or on devices such as laptops or mobile phones that are on public wireless networks.
  • Do not be fooled by extraordinary offers. If a product or service looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Beware of emails asking for personal information even if they look to be from a reputable source. Fraudsters will often send “phishing” emails to try to steal your personal information or to install malware.
  • Do not click on links if you do not know or trust the source.

If you think you have been the victim of online fraud, scams, or identity theft, file a report with local police, your credit card company, or online to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at

The Information and Privacy Commissioner works independently of government to protect the access and privacy rights of all Albertans.