More and more consumers are turning to online shopping for their day-to-day and holiday purchases. Here are seven tips we’ve compiled to help safeguard your personal information and protect you from cyber criminals.
Tip #1: Create Secure Passwords
Your password is the first line of defense - so make it a strong one. Avoid simple, easy to figure out passwords like “Pass1234” or “0000” - even birthdays and anniversary dates are easy for hackers to figure out.
If your computer supports the ability to generate random passwords, this can be the safest option. Otherwise, create a password free from full words, names, dates, phone numbers or addresses. And don't forget to change your passwords on a regular basis and avoid keeping a list of them on your computer.
Tip #2: Protect Your Passwords
Always use a different password for each site or service you use. This is an important step in preventing hackers from gaining access to all of your other accounts if one becomes compromised. Avoid sharing your password with others, even friends and family. If another person's computer is hacked, this could put your personal information in danger as well.
Tip #3: Invest in Quality Cybersecurity Software
If you don’t have it already, consider installing cybersecurity software on your computer. This software can help identify and prevent viruses from downloading to your computer system. While there are free programs available, they don’t always provide the latest updates. There are low-cost cybersecurity options to choose from, and their small upfront cost can be worth it to safeguard your personal information.
Tip #4: Be Wary of Links
In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid clicking on any links you receive in an email or chat - especially if they’re from a stranger or unfamiliar company. It’s entirely too easy for hackers to make links appear trustworthy or like they’re coming from a reliable source, when in reality they’re not. If you’re unsure about the validity of a link, try typing the URL directly into your browser’s address bar.
Tip #5: Don’t Put Yourself at Risk
As an online shopper, you’ll want to be vigilant of sites that appear to boast too-good-to-be-true offers or list items for sale at a substantially lower price than others. If it does not appear to be reputable, it could be putting your computer or personal information in danger.
Tip #6: Don’t Use Debit Cards Online
Once you make a purchase with a debit card, the money is immediately deducted from your bank account. If a cybercriminal gains access to your debit card information, the criminal can quickly drain your bank account. While you may get your money back, you will likely not have access to your funds until your bank resolves the issue. Instead, use a credit card and let your credit card company worry about it.