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Learn how to avoid putting your financial data at risk by shopping safely online. Here are five tips you can use to protect your data and your finances.
1. Shop with retailers that you know you can trust
You can tell pretty quickly at a brick and mortar store whether it seems legitimate or not. But with an online store, it can be more challenging to tell who is trustworthy and who is not. When possible, try to shop at sites that you know and believe are likely to treat you right, like major retailers with reputations to keep up. Not only are these retailers less likely to put you in danger of fraud, but they also have the resources to shut down fraudulent sites that pretend to be them to steal consumer data.
2. Do not shop on public Wi-Fi networks
There are plenty of places offering free Wi-Fi these days – but you should be aware that public networks are not as secure as they need to be for you to shop safely. Cybercriminals take advantage of the lax security on public networks to steal banking and credit card information. They do this by waiting until unsuspecting victims log in to their banks or purchase items online. When you give your financial info on a public network, it could be stolen fairly easily. Instead, wait to shop until you get home or are on another secure network.
3. Verify that the website is secure by looking for “https” in the address bar
When you visit web pages that you know well, like those from major retailers, you will usually see a small lock in the address bar indicating that the site uses https or hypertext transfer protocol secure to add a layer of privacy to your information online. When you see https, it will mask the information that you share on the site – like your financial information and your passwords. You should try to only shop on sites that offer https.
4. Use a credit card to make your purchases
Credit cards offer you an extra layer of protection when you make purchases whether online or offline. The credit card companies are required by law to investigate when you tell them that fraudulent charges were made on your card. So if you make a purchase and your information is stolen and someone racks up charges on your card, the credit card company will cancel the card, investigate the fraud and you won’t have to pay for the fraudulent charges.
You also get something similar with your debit card, but you could have to pay up to $50 if fraudulent charges are made. You also need to notify your bank that those charges were made within 60 days, otherwise, you will have to cover the charges.
5. Check your bank statements and credit card statements periodically
Unfortunately, fraudulent charges can go unnoticed and result in you being liable for them – like with your debit card when you fail to notify the bank within 60 days of your card being used without your knowledge. But you can avoid such situations by checking your bank and credit card statements regularly. You get a monthly statement from both your bank and your credit card company. Make sure to go through the statement and check to see if the charges all look right to you. If they don’t look right be sure to notify someone immediately to avoid liability for the charges.