In order to skip the lines and traffic, many people opt to shop online for gifts during the holiday season. Unfortunately, hackers often target online shoppers to steal their personal information. Before you click, you might consider these tips for a safer online shopping experience.

Research websites before you shop. When shopping online, make sure you navigate only to reputable sites. You can research sites before you shop by reading reviews from previous customers.

Choose passwords carefully. Create a strong password if you order through an online account, and use different passwords when you shop on various websites. Follow password guidelines such as using a combination of letters, numbers, and capital letters or random phrases.

Be careful how you connect. Look for https:// in the URL and not just http://, since the "s" indicates a secure connection. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks when shopping online, as they often lack secure connections.

Search with purpose. Typing one word into a search engine to reach a particular website is easy, but it sometimes isn't enough to reach the site you are actually looking for. Scam websites may contain URLs that look like misspelled brand or store names to trick online shoppers. You can also use a specialty search engine (e.g., one designed for clothing retailers or toy manufacturers) for optimal search results that will lead you to a reputable site.

Pay by credit card. Credit-card payments can be withheld if there is a dispute, but debit cards are typically debited quickly. Credit cards generally have better protection than debit cards against fraudulent charges.

Watch out for phishing and package delivery emails. Beware of emails containing links or asking for personal information. Legitimate shopping websites will never email you and randomly ask for your personal information. In addition, be aware of fake emails disguised as package delivery emails. Make sure that all delivery emails are from reputable delivery companies you recognize.

*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer
(Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Redwood Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union Members.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2016.