Tips to protect yourself while shopping online
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By Ken Weise  December 13, 2013 12:00 am

Whether you shop online routinely or infrequently, the risk of identity theft rises as you offer more and more information about yourself online.

 

• Don’t use a debit card, and use only one credit card: If your debit card gets hacked, the thieves may be able to access your bank account. But if you use just one credit card for online shopping, you’ll just have one card to cancel if your card number is compromised. (It would also be wise to keep a low credit limit on that particular card.)

 

• Look for the "https://" before you enter personal information: When you see that (look for the “s”), it should indicate that you are transmitting data within a secure site. Depending on your browser, you may also see a padlock symbol at the bottom of the browser window. 

• Watch what you click – and watch out for fake sites: Pop-ups, attachments from mysterious sources, dubious links – don’t be tempted to explore where they lead. Hackers have created all manner of “phishing” sites and online surveys – seemingly legitimate but set up to siphon your information. It is better to be skeptical. 

 

• Protect your PC: When did you install the security and firewall programs on your computer? Have you updated them recently? 

 

• Change stored passwords frequently – and make them really obscure: It is a good idea to change or update your passwords once in a while. Mix letters and numbers, and use an uppercase letter if possible. And never use “password” as your password!

 

• Don’t shop using an unsecured WiFi connection: You are really leaving yourself open to identity theft when you shop using public WiFi. Put away the laptop and wait until you leave that coffee shop or airport terminal. Yes, hackers can tap into your Smartphone via the same tactics by which they can invade your PC.

 

Ken Weise, an LPL Financial Advisor, provided this article. He can be reached at 707-584-6690. Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions of this material are for information purposes only.

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