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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection The Resource Center | article

Avoid Identity Theft While Shopping Online

Online shopping is a retail trend that continues to become more and more popular.

People are increasing their online spending for a number of reasons: it’s convenient, most stores now have an online presence, shipping is quicker than ever, many stores are providing free online shipping and, finally, shoppers can price match quickly and easily while browsing online. Retail experts are predicting that online sales figures will keep growing in 2015, and that unfortunately means more opportunity for cyber-criminals who are looking to commit identity theft.

Protect your identity while you shop online in 2015.

Protect your identity while you shop online in 2015.

You can, however, help protect your identity by taking a few precautions whenever you go online, whether you’re on your desktop at home or using your mobile device in a crowded cafe. Here are some tips that can help keep you safe:

  • Don’t click on links: Don’t respond to emails that are from unverified sources. Cyber-criminals often pose as banks or other valid institutions to solicit personal information, like your Social Security number, and a recent phishing scam involved thieves posing as a shipping company and asking individuals to click on a link to confirm an online order. If you think you might have ordered something, confirm with the company separately rather than opening the link, which could cause malware to download on your computer.
  • Don’t save your payment information: It might seem like saving your credit card number on your favorite shopping site will save you time, but actually it will only make you vulnerable to credit card identity theft. It’s much better to reenter that information every time.
  • Don’t shop over public WiFi: Hackers can easily enter your computer system and see your payment and login information if you access secure sites over public WiFi. The convenience of getting your shopping done on the go does not outweigh the negative effects of becoming a victim of identity theft.
  • Refrain from oversharing: Try not to give away too much information on social media sites. Every piece of personal knowledge could be used by a cyber-criminal to guess your passwords or answer your security questions, allowing them to hack into your accounts.
  • Use strong passwords: Create passwords that are eight or more characters long and contain a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols. Try not to use words or phrases as the basis of your passwords, and definitely steer clear of personal information like birthdays, your pet’s name or anniversaries. Finally, use a different password for each account. Try a password saver if you need a secure storage option for remembering them.
  • Verify websites before you buy: Some thieves set up fraudulent websites offering unbelievable deals. Make sure you only shop with sites that are widely used and that you trust. If a discount is too good to be true, it probably isn’t legitimate. Another warning sign is if a site only accepts payment through Paypal rather than accepting traditional credit card payments.

Shopping online is convenient and fun. Just make sure you do it right to keep you and your assets safe from harm.