Security Corner

Jan 29 2015   2:19AM GMT

Ten steps to protect your finances online

Ken Harthun Ken Harthun Profile: Ken Harthun

Tags:
Credit Card Fraud
Credit cards
Cybercrime
Ecommerce applications
Online banking
Security

piratescopeIt seems like every time you turn on the TV or radio these days, there’s news of another major security breach. Cyber-crime is rampant and the landscape doesn’t seem to be improving much, if at all, despite the good guys’ efforts. So what is one to do? You can avoid shopping online altogether (probably now nearly impossible for most of us), or you can take reasonable steps to be as safe as possible when transacting business over the internet. Here are ten steps you can and should put in place.

  1. Shop only on secure web sites. Before you enter any credit card information into a web site, make sure it is secure. Look for https:// in the address bar of your browser. If you don’t see it, shop elsewhere.
  2. Never transact business over public wi-fi. You have no way of knowing if the connection is secure. There may be others eavesdropping on the traffic, trying to steal your information.
  3. Never transact business on a public computer. Hotels, libraries and airport kiosks, to name a few, often provide free “business services” that include publicly accessible computers. These are safe only for looking up information on the web. Never use them to log into anything, including your email. You have no idea what is lurking there, nor do you know what security measure are — but probably aren’t — present.
  4. Secure your home network. At the very least, install a router between your cable modem and your computer and turn on any firewall capabilities it has. Use a software firewall and antivirus and antimalware software on your computer.
  5. Configure alerts for your bank and credit card accounts. Most, if not all banks and credit card companies have features that allow you to set up email or text alerts for certain transactions.
  6. Use credit cards instead of debit cards. Credit cards usually have fraud protection and will allow you to dispute any charges you feel are unauthorized. With a debit card, the money leaves your bank account immediately and may take months to recover.
  7. Use hard-to-guess, complex passwords. Use hard-to-guess, complex passwords. Use hard-to-guess, complex passwords. There are plenty of articles on this site that tell you how to create and use hard-to-guess, complex passwords.
  8. Never directly answer or respond to an email from your bank. If you need to contact them, use the phone. Criminals have become very good at making their fraudulent emails look legitimate. It goes without saying that you should never click on any links in any email.
  9. Update everything, always. Keep your computers, smart phone, tablets and any other internet-connected device up to date with the latest security patches. This is even more important for the applications you use on these devices to access your financial accounts online.
  10. Stay alert. There is nothing that works better than good old-fashioned vigilance. Review your balances and transactions regularly to make sure everything is in order. If it doesn’t seem right (like that $5.96 charge you don’t remember making), take steps to notify your financial institution immediately.

This may seem like a lot to think about, but it’s really just common sense and once you develop these safe habits, they will serve you without much effort on your part.

Be safe!

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