There’s no foolproof way to protect your identity when shopping online, but there are a number of simple steps you can take to ensure that scammers don’t have a field day with your personal information on the web.
Change Your Passwords
Most businesses that allow internet access for their employees require that their employees reset their passwords every six months or so. While you don’t need to set a weekly calendar reminder, changing up your password occasionally – and especially if you believe any of your online accounts have been compromised – is a good rule of thumb. And speaking of passwords…
Don’t Use Obvious Passwords
Surprisingly, many people still use passwords like ‘12345’ or ‘password’ for their online accounts. One of the best things you can do is pick a password that contains a mix of upper and lower-case letters, at least one number and one special symbol like an @ or &. And if your password is one of these listed on the Top 25 Worst Passwords of 2013, you need to change things up soon!
Don’t Save Credit/Debit Payment Info
Many online shopping sites will give you the option to save your credit or debit card information as you’re completing a purchase. While it’s extremely convenient to simply login and have your payment info ready to go, it’s just as easy for a scammer who has access to your account to do the same thing. Sure, it may take a few extra second to enter that card info each time you checkout, but choosing not to save your card numbers can save you hours of hassle should your online shopping account be compromised.
Never Give Out Account Info Via Email
Scammer are smart. Many phishing scams sent through email are dressed up in the guise of a security breach and are designed to look remarkably similar to an official bank email. While it may be tempting, NEVER give out your bank or personal information via email. If you happen to receive an email that looks like it’s from your bank or credit card company asking for your account information, call the business personally and check it out. If it is a legitimate email, the customer service rep you speak with should be aware of the issue and can help you over the phone.
Use 2-Phase Security Validation When Possible
This sounds more complex than it really is. Basically, when someone attempts to log in to one of your accounts from an unfamiliar computer they’re then prompted to enter a security code that is usually sent via text or phone call to your cell phone. They must then enter that code before they can proceed any further into the login process. This type of security is beneficial in two ways. First, it alerts you that someone is attempting to log in to one of your accounts should you receive that text or phone call. Secondly, it presents a difficult hurdle for scammers to attempt to bypass. In addition to the tips above, anytime you plan to make a large purchase you should definitely consider an online escrow service. These types of services help ensure that your funds are safely transferred from buyer to seller while keeping all of your personal information private.