We’re so pleased to be partnering with our sponsor Capital One to help celebrate National Consumer Protection Week. This is the second installment in our smart surfing series, focusing on tips to help you with safe online shopping.

We’re no strangers to online shopping. I mean, duh. And considering it’s 2011 (and you’re here) we highly doubt that you are either. In fact, we might be so bold as to say it’s a busy mom’s very favorite kind of shopping.

But time-saving and convenient as online shopping can be for us, of course it’s super important for us to ensure that our experience is a safe one. As badly as you might want that gorgeous diaper bag or cool iPhone case, you certainly don’t want some fraudster adding a slew of other items to your bill along with it. So we’ve put together five easy tips to help you make sure that your online shopping sprees are safe ones.

1. Look for the lock

A quick scan at the top of your browser will show a lock and an “s” after the the “http.” That means you’re shopping with a safe site and don’t need to worry that your information is being secretly shared. If you don’t see those two things, all we can say is, skip the site. Find one that’s safer.

2. Make strong passwords

The key to making strong passwords is to include a number (and a symbol if it’s allowed), a combo of upper and lower case letters, and words that seem incongruous. Avoid information not easily found on any of your public documentation–so no kids’ names, birthdates, that sort of thing. Think StinkyPh0neGB12 or Hey7Ball3rina44.  And be sure to change your passwords often. A great tip is to keep your shopping passwords different from your personal passwords on sites like Facebook. This way, if someone hacks into one site, they won’t have access to everything else.

3. Use familiar sites

At least on this site and Cool Mom Picks, we want to hook our readers up with good deals but we stick with sites we know and trust. In other words, nothing called lowlowsuperdeals.com. If you want to branch out with an independent boutique or a site you don’t know, consider using Paypal for your purchases for extra protection. Or check your credit card benefits to see what kind of buyer protection coverage you might have just for the peace of mind.

4. Check your statements. Yes, all of them.

It’s way too easy to pay bills online automatically without so much as a glance at your statement. Don’t do that! In fact, Don’t wait for your bills to arrive before you give the once over to your credit card and bank statements. Hop online every week or so just check in. The last thing you need is a surprise $10,000 bill at the end of the month.

5. Think mobile

These days, you don’t even have to use your computer to shop. Online stores like Amazon, iTunes and even flash sale site Rue La La have apps that let you shop from your phone, allowing you to securely keep all your information all in your pocket. Just make sure you’ve got your phone password-protected, or activate the setting that forces you to type your password in each time especially if your kids play with your phone like ours do. Oops.

Capital One
For more helpful online safety tips, make sure to visit the very helpful National Consumer Protection Week website and if you’re looking for tips on how to talk to your kids about money, check out our sponsor Capital One’s site Bank It

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