Question: I'm doing more of my shopping online these days. What steps should I take to make sure my personal and financial information stays secure?
Short Tutorial/FAQ – How Do I Stay Secure When I Shop Online?
Answer: You've already taken one big step, which is being aware that your security could be at risk when you shop online. Here are some additional precautions you can take:
Online shopping is convenient but it's not always secure. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to protect yourself from being a victim of financial or identity theft.
- Only do business with reputable vendors. That means sticking to sites you've heard of or have a high percentage of positive reviews. If you're uncertain but still want to do business with a site, use a one-time credit card number (see below).
- Make sure your information is encrypted. You can tell the site uses encryption if its URL includes "https" instead of "http."
- Use company apps. Even better than secure websites are apps, which many retailers now provide.
- Be aware of phony emails. Scammers may pose as a well-known vendor and send email asking you to provide your login information. This isn't something legitimate businesses do, so don't be tempted to respond.
- Don't shop when using public Wi-Fi. Don't conduct any financial transactions unless you're on a secure connection (such as your wired internet at home).
- Use a credit card. Though debit cards are handy, they don't provide the same kind of protection that credit cards offer (such as getting money back for illegitimate purchases).
- Use a one-time credit card. You can get a one-time number from your credit card company, so your real account number isn't compromised.
- Check your credit card statements. If you see any charges you don't recognize, contact your credit card company immediately.
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