One thing I enjoy doing is online shopping. When it is too hot or too cold to venture out, I choose to use the comfort of my own home to look for and buy items.

This helps at Christmas time and I don’t have to battle Black Friday crowds.

While all this is convenient, I have had a couple of experiences that has caused me to think twice about giving out personal information.

There are a lot of techy-minded “hackers and scammers” lurking in the dark alleys of our Internet. They know how to tap into our bank accounts and basically help themselves.

This past Christmas, I was surprised to look at my bank account and observe that someone had purchased an item from a local department store and I knew that it wasn’t me. The item was pricey so I knew right then I had not spent that kind of money.

I contacted my bank, which told me to call the store’s corporate office to try and get the charge removed.

What was so strange was that the item the “hacker” ordered was going to be delivered to the local store.

At that point, I felt like my privacy had been invaded and compromised.

The local store advised me the item was actually there and someone was to pick it up at 3 p.m.

Of course, I got put through to the manager, who in turn alerted our local law enforcement. I never heard if anyone tried to pick up the item, but I hope they caught the culprit.

I wound up getting a new card and continued to do online shopping.

However, last week I got a text from PayPal alerting me that there was some kind of fraudulent activity occurring on my account. So when checking my bank account I was shocked to see that there was a pending charge for $600.

Oh, no! That is a lot of money, not only when you are on a limited income, but it’s a lot of money for anyone.

So I contacted the seller (which happened to be eBay) and inquired what the impostor had purchased.

Well, someone had tried to buy a pair of Gucci men’s shoes, size 11.

First of all, I don’t even know anyone that takes that size, and secondly, I sure didn’t need them. The shoes were going to be delivered here to my house.

To make a long story short, the order was canceled, I had to get another new bank card, and I finally got the pending charge removed.

A lot of people shop online, so, do you think it is safe?

I read that now you can shop at various retailers online for groceries. How handy that would be, but I think I have learned a lesson about protecting my personal information.

Recently, an elderly gentleman told me that he had got ripped off for quite a sum of money. This happened right in our local community and took place in the form of a phone call.

The gentleman was told that if he presented a sum of $500, somehow he was eligible to get the money doubled.

The local resident thought, “This sounds too good to be true.” But, he went ahead and dropped off the requested funds.

He then waited for his promised double amount to appear in his bank account. He waited and waited, but no money was ever deposited. He said, “It sounded so legit.”

When I was growing up, the word “hack” meant to carelessly chop something such as a piece of meat or wood. Now hack has a whole new meaning and I don’t even like to hear about it. It means in a technical sense that anyone smart enough can wreak havoc on your bank account.

Do you shop online? Are you careful with personal information? Have you ever been hacked or scammed? Let me know and I’ll give you a Penny for Your Thoughts.