Shopping and banking online occur constantly in the Internet marketplace. Unfortunately, online fraud and identity theft occur just as frequently, thanks to clever thieves and sloppy consumer Internet shopping habits. Online transactions always carry some risk, but consumers can do many things to increase their security on the Web.
If our consumers wanting to be as safe as possible when shopping online should take several key steps:
- Choose a strong password filled with numbers, symbols, and lowercase/uppercase letters.
Keep track of your account info in a non-digital place, such as a notebook in your fire safe. This prevents hackers from seeing a list of all your passwords if they gain access to your computer, phone, or tablet.
- Don’t use the same user name and passwords for all of your accounts.
- Check your configurations and select at least a medium security level for your browsers.
- Use only SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protected sites to conduct financial or purchase transactions. Check that the web address begins with “https” – not “HTTP” and displays a padlock symbol to ensure these pages are encrypted for transmission SSL.
- Never leave your computer unattended with your personal or financial information in plain view.
- Don’t use public wifi when performing online transactions. Do your shopping at home, from your own computer.
- Don’t use one-click or easy-pay payment options. Make sure every transaction requires your password.
- Check your password recovery options often and keep the information up to date. If the website offers additional security, such as two-step verification, take them up on the added services. Any layers of protection you can add to your financial accounts can slow down or deter hackers.
- Consider using prepaid debit cards for your online shopping transactions.
- If something looks suspicious, get offline and shut down your computer immediately. Trust your instincts.
- Always log out after accessing your shopping or banking accounts, then close your browser.
- Don’t allow your computer to store your usernames and passwords for shopping and banking sites.
- Use a trusted third-party service, such as PayPal, to help protect your private information during online transactions. These sites provide dispute services and secure financial transactions for a small fee.
- Change your passwords every 1-6 months. The more often, the better.
- Always keep up-to-date antivirus and firewall security programs. Scan your computer frequently and check to make sure your firewall is turned on before shopping online, paying bills, or accessing your bank accounts.
- If you get a request from your financial institution to provide account details, don’t click any links in the contact email. Call your institution directly (not by using the contact information in the suspicious email) and verify the validity of the request.