Shopping for everything and everyone has never been easier online, but just like the physical world, there are thieves lying in wait, thinking up new ways to steal money and data. While reputable sites and browsers have a bulwark of security protocols, there are a few ways you can be more proactive with keeping your financial information safe.
Make Sure The Page and Wifi Network Are Safe
You wouldn’t shout your credit card number in the middle of a crowded area, would you? That’s essentially what you’re doing if you’re shopping using a public wifi or a page without HTTPS encryption (the little closed padlock up in the navbar). Mind you, the average passerby isn’t going to care, but the more nefarious types listen through public or unlocked wifi networks for sensitive information. With that in mind, make sure your home wifi network has a strong password to protect against intruders and to use secured web pages.
Change Your Passwords Regularly
It might be a pain to rotate your passwords, but it’s worth doing in order to protect your privacy. Make it a habit to not use the same passwords for everything and to add as much complexity to them as you can. A strong password that’s updated regularly will make it much more difficult for people to force their way into your accounts and steal your data.
Keep Your Browser and Antivirus Software Updated
This is one of the easiest things you can do to keep yourself safe online: just update your browser and antivirus apps. Viruses and malware are updating all the time and antivirus programs even a month outdated can be left vulnerable. If you don’t have antivirus software already, we have a few suggestions on where to start looking for adequate protection. Once it’s installed, be sure to schedule regular scans.
Be Wary of Email Links
Especially around the holidays, you might notice your inbox flooded with online newsletters with awesome deals. Make sure to double-check the links and where those emails are coming from as they might be a part of a phishing scam. Phishing is a tactic that uses phony links to lead unexpecting people to unsecure sites to steal their information. The links might also include malware that, once clicked, start installing quietly onto your machine. Of course, there are plenty of legitimate emails with great sales for you, but be sure to hover over the link and check the sender to make sure it’s valid.
Monitor Your Credit Card Statements
Beyond all these electronic countermeasures, make sure that you’re checking your credit card statements regularly for any weird activity. Whether by mail or online, a quick glance can save you a lot of trouble down. Most major banks already offer some form of fraud prevention and alert you by text, email, or call, but be proactive and double-check with your banker to make sure you’re enrolled and that your contact information is up to date.