If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – here are several pounds of prevention to help keep your money safe.
The Internet can be a scary place. Fortunately, banks have a very high interest in keeping you, your money, and your information secure. Here are some things you can do to help protect your money further when shopping online:
Do not shop online in public places or when using public WiFi
Do not conduct online transactions in public places. It is possible for hackers to record your keystrokes. That could provide them with usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and personal information. A good hacker can also snag your information from your personal, computer, or phone when you are using the public WiFi. Only shop online from your own computer (or that of a trusted friend) and NOT on a public WiFi connection.
Always log out off your computer and shut it down when you leave it. To a hacker your open computer looks a lot like your wallet!
Never give out your social security number (or use it in a password)
You should not ever need to provide your social security number to make a simple purchase. Immediately leave any online store that requests that information from you! Protect your social security number!
Install trusted anti-virus software on your computer
Keep your web browser and operating system current with the most recent security patches. Fortunately, most of this updates automatically on current computers if you have the software installed.
Check for the seal
Most legitimate websites display of seal of approval from sites such as McAfee, the Better Business Bureau, VeriSign or TRUSTe. This is an indication that a reputable organization has verified the trustworthiness of the vendor. Of course, seals can be faked, so it is not a guarantee – but a helpful indication of trust.
Use Strong Passwords
Your password is the key into your account! A strong password should include:
- a mix of numbers and letters,
- both uppercase and lowercase characters, and
- at least one symbol like @ or %
Easy to hack passwords include words like your name, birthday, “12345” or “password.” Do not use the same password for multiple accounts!
Consider when it is better to use credit cards, not debit cards
Credit cards have better consumer protections against fraud – whereas debit cards do not provide quite the same level of protection.
Check for https
Look for https:// rather than http:// in the page’s website address before entering your information.The extra ‘s’ indicates the site uses an encryption system to scramble your information. It indicates an extra level of security.
If something just does not feel right – STOP NOW
You can usually trust big names like Amazon and eBay. Lesser-known websites should be treated with suspicion. If the site looks outdated or poorly designed, proceed with caution.
Also, it is easy for hacker to “mimic” trusted email addresses (for example: e-apple.com instead of apple.com). One letter difference can send you to a fraudulent site. If you receive an email with a link to a website, never shop directly through that link–even if it is a big, well-known company. Navigate to the site through your web browser or bring it up on a Google search.
Finally, a question – What is risky about the old fashion way of just paying by check?
Of all payment methods, checks are the most commonly used for fraud or identity theft! Think about the information on your check — your name, address, and checking account and routing numbers! The good news is – online transactions process much faster and have many advantages. (If you don’t already pay your bills online, you can contact your bank about how to do so.)
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