Proper internet security can help protect you from fraud. Stay safer with these 10 tips to help protect you online.
As your options for banking and purchasing online grow, so does your need to safeguard your privacy and security while using the internet on your personal computer, tablet or mobile device.
Online security can be as simple as frequently reviewing your bank accounts to stay on top of things and making sure you report any fraudulent transactions promptly. But what else should you do to stay safe online or when using a mobile device?
- Use strong passwords for all your accounts. A strong password (one that is not easily guessed by a human or computer) will have 8 or more characters, including letters, numbers and symbols. Make sure to use different user IDs and passwords for your financial accounts and for any other sites you use online.
- Don’t use any part of your Social Security number (or any other sensitive info, like a credit card number) as a password, user ID or personal identification number (PIN). If someone gains access to this information, it will be among the first things they use to try to get into your account.
- Don’t respond to emails that claim to be from your bank (or any other company) requesting your account details. No bank is ever likely to approach you this way to ask for personal information.
- Be wary of email attachments and free software from unknown sources. You could end up exposing your computer (and the information on it) to online fraud and theft.
- Be mindful of how much personal information you share on social networking sites. The more you post about yourself, the easier it might be for someone to use the information you post to access your accounts, steal your identity and more. Maximizing your privacy settings on social networking sites can also help protect your personal information.
- Be careful about what (and where) you click online. Look for security-enabled website addresses that start with “https:” (the extra “s” indicates security). These sites take extra measures to help secure your information. Keep in mind that links you receive in emails or in messages on social networking sites can be harmful or fraudulent, even if they appear to come from friends. Requests for personal information or a call for immediate action are almost always a scam. If you suspect the link might give you a virus or steal personal data, don’t click on it. Talk to the sender directly and make sure it came from them.
- Secure your smartphone with a screen lock. Many mobile devices give you the option of locking your screen with a password, helping you keep the data on your smartphone secure.
- Keep sensitive personal information and bank account numbers and passwords off your phone. Some banks offer secure mobile access without having to expose your account information or passwords.
- Keep your computer operating system, your internet browser and your mobile device software up to date with the latest security patches. For mobile devices, this may require synching with your computer. Also, be sure to use anti-virus and anti-spyware software: They help find and remove viruses and spyware that can steal your information.
By following these online and mobile security tips, you can help protect your personal information and help prevent it from getting into the wrong hands. If you suspect information related to your bank account has been compromised, contact your bank immediately for assistance addressing the issue.
It’s important to take steps to protect yourself when shopping online.
Anything connected to the Internet, including mobile devices like smartphones and tablets need to be protected – especially during heavy use periods, like the holidays. Scammers and cybercriminals can target shoppers as well. Everyone should be on alert for emails that might get us to act quickly and click through links and open attachments. Be wary of emails about problems with your credit cards or an account or the status of online order. The bad guys know we are price sensitive when shopping online. Exercise caution when seeing and ad offer where the discount is way below normal. Being a safe and secure shopper starts with STOP. THINK. CONNECT.: Take security precautions, think about the consequences of your actions online and enjoy the conveniences of technology with peace of mind while you shop online. Remember these tips during all online purchases.
Online Shopping Tips:
- Conduct research: When using a new website for purchases, read reviews and see if other consumers have had a positive or negative experience with the site.
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in emails, posts and texts are often the ways cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.
- Personal information is like money: value it and protect it: When making a purchase online, be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete the transaction. Make sure you think it is necessary for the vendor to request that information. Remember, you only need to fill out required fields at checkout.
- Use safe payment options: Credit cards are generally the safest option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered.
- Don’t be disappointed: Read return and other polices so you know what to expect if the purchase doesn’t go as planned.
- Protect your $$: When shopping, check to be sure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with https:// indicating extra measures to help secure your information.
Let’s face it, there’s every reason in the world to shop online. The bargains are there. The selection is mind-boggling. The shopping is secure. Shipping is fast. Even returns are pretty easy, with the right e-tailers. Shopping has never been easier or more convenient for consumers.
But what about the bad guys who lay in wait? IID’s Third Quarter eCrime Report for 2011 indicates that use of phishing attacks (where thieves attempt to swindle you out of your sign-in credentials and even credit card info by pretending to be a real website, or even an online bank) is down, as much as eight percent since the second quarter and 11 percent since the third quarter of last year. That’s great news—except the same report says sites with malware (malicious code aimed at compromising your privacy) has increased by 89 percent since the second quarter.
Stay calm. While somewhat alarming, these stats should not keep you from shopping online. You simply need some common sense and practical advice. Follow these basic guidelines and you can shop online with confidence. Here are 11 tips for staying safe online, so you can start checking off items on that holiday shopping list.
1. Use Familiar Websites
Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, chances are it’s less likely to be a rip off. We all know Amazon.com and that it carries everything under the sun; likewise, just about every major retail outlet has an online store, from Target to Best Buy to Home Depot. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example)—those are the oldest tricks in the book. Yes, the sales on these sites might look enticing, but that’s how they trick you into giving up your info.
2. Look for the Lock
Never ever, ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar. It depends on your browser.
Never, ever give anyone your credit card over email. Ever.
By just clicking a mouse or touching a screen, shoppers can buy nearly any product online — from groceries to cars, from insurance policies to home loans. The world of electronic commerce, also known as e-commerce, enables consumers to shop at thousands of online stores and pay for their purchases without leaving the comfort of home. For many, the Internet has taken the place of Saturday afternoon window shopping at the mall. Consumers expect merchants to not only make their products available online, but to make payments a simple and secure process. However, the same things can go wrong shopping online as in the real world. Sometimes it is simply a case of a computer glitch or poor customer service. Other times, shoppers are cheated by clever scam artists.
Just as shoppers should take measures to protect themselves in brick-and-mortar stores — such as protecting their PIN numbers when checking out and not leaving purses unattended — online shoppers also need to take sensible precautions. This guide offers advice on how to make your online shopping experiences enjoyable and safe.
2. Shop at Secure Web Sites
How can you tell if a Web site is secure? Secure sites use encryption technology to transfer information from your computer to the online merchant’s computer. Encryption scrambles the information you send, such as your credit card number, in order to prevent computer hackers from obtaining it en route. The only people who can unscramble the code are those with legitimate access privileges. Here’s how you can tell when you are dealing with a secure site:
- If you look at the top of your screen where the Web site address is displayed (the “address bar”), you should see https://. The “s” that is displayed after “http” indicates that Web site is secure. Often, you do not see the “s” until you actually move to the order page on the Web site.
- Another way to determine if a Web site is secure is to look for a closed padlock displayed on the address bar of your screen. If that lock is open, you should assume it is not a secure site.
Of course, transmitting your data over secure channels is of little value to you if the merchant stores the data unscrambled. You should try to find out if the merchant stores the data in encrypted form. If a hacker is able to intrude, it cannot obtain your credit data and other personal information. Be sure to read the merchant’s privacy and security policies to learn how it safeguards your personal data on its computers.