Our entire lives can sometimes be found in various locations on the Internet, whether it is on our social networking sites, blogs, genealogy data, or other personal websites where we put our lives on display for the world to see. Unfortunately, some people will take your personal information and use it fraudulently for their own gain.
Shopping online should not be something to fear, however. You should certainly be wary of how you divulge personal and sensitive information, but don’t curtail your online activities because of possibilities that can be avoided or drastically minimized with a little effort. Here are ten tips for shopping online safely that can help you keep your personal data protected:
1. Never give your social security number or credit/debit card numbers to any individual or company through the Internet or an e-mail.
2. When making a purchase, make sure the site is secure by checking to see if the URL begins with “https” or “http.” The “s” at the end indicates a secure connection and protected site.
3. If you receive an e-mail asking you to click an embedded link to provide additional identifying or financial information, do not do so.
4. Change your passwords frequently, do not store them electronically, and make sure they are hard to guess. The best way to do this is by combining two words, adding numbers and punctuation and using random capitalization.
5. Make purchases on reputable, certified sites.
6. Always have an updated anti-virus program running on your computer whenever you are using the Internet.
7. Steer clear of sites that don’t appear to be legitimate. These would include sites that have terrible web design, numerous pop-up windows that are difficult to close, nonsensical URLs and difficult-to-locate company information.
8. Keep your browser updated via manual or automatic update options.
9. Use online payment services that provide fraud protection (like Pay Pal or Bill Me Later).
10. Know your consumer protection rights. And the most important thing to remember is – if something seems strange or too good to be true, it should probably be avoided.