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Four Ways to Avoid Online Credit Card Fraud
[September 10th, 2013]
Shopping online lets you skip the hassle of finding a parking spot, navigating crowds and waiting in lines, but many people worry about whether they are compromising the security of their financial information by making purchases online. Likewise, banking online offers convenience and saves time – but leads to concern about hackers and identity theft.
The good news is, with a few safety measures in place, you can surf your way to shopping nirvana without risking becoming a victim of online credit card fraud, and bank with confidence online. Follow these four guidelines and click with a clear conscience:
- Don’t use public computers to make purchases or check account balances. Whether you are at the library or an electronics store, it’s best not to use computers that are available to the public to shop or do online banking. There are two reasons for this. First, the computer itself may not be secure. You wouldn’t want the next user to be able to log on to your bank account, or find that the auto-fill field has your credit card number in it already. Second, the Wi-Fi network that public computers use is unlikely to be secure. Even if it is password protected, every customer in the store is surfing on that channel. Best to do your business at home, on your own secure network.
- Check for the security certificate that tells you you’re surfing a secure site. Look on the bottom of your screen—there should be a little icon that shows you are on a trusted site. (Often this is a small padlock picture.) If the online retailer or financial website you are visiting doesn’t have this, don’t put your secure information into any fields. Also, if an alert pops up on your screen saying the site is not trusted or the security certificate is expired,close that window—you don’t want to risk it.
- Change your passwords regularly. Yes, it’s a pain to keep memorizing new passwords, but it’s worth it. If your credit card information or your identity is stolen, the hassle will be much greater. So get creative and change those passwords every few months. Do this on any site that stores your password or payment information, and be sure to use a mix of capital and lower case letters, special characters, numbers and letters to make a different maximum-security password for each site. Write them down on a piece of paper that you stash in a secret spot near your computer.
- Close your browsers. Just as you don’t walk out of the room and leave the door wide open, don’t leave your browser windows open when you finish shopping online or doing online banking. Whether you are using Safari, Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer, check your security settings to make sure passwords and history will be forgotten when you close the browser. Then get in the habit of clicking that “X” and closing the browser behind you when you log off.
The Internet makes it easy to do all kinds of business online. There is no need to fear fraud if you take care to surf safely.
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