With all the security breaches that happened this year, protecting your personal information is paramount. Part of doing this is being cautious online.
It’s hard to resist the ease of online shopping and the fantastic deals available, but the key is to be knowledgeable about what to look out for and how to protect yourself.
Beware of Phishing Attacks and Scams
Phishing occurs when criminals attempt to obtain sensitive information by pretending to be a trustworthy person or entity. This can take many forms, so be on the lookout for:
- Family members claiming to be stuck in foreign countries and requiring financial assistance
- Businesses recruiting for easy work with unbelievable pay
- Product deals that are too good to be true
- Financial institutions requesting you submit bank account information
If you’re not sure if it’s a scam, you can always call the person or business and ask.
Check Transactions Regularly
Online banking has made it easy to monitor your accounts. If you have a smartphone, you can even use a mobile app to manage your finances on the go. Make it a habit to log on and review recent transactions.
If your account has been compromised, criminals will often make small purchases to test your account. If you see a few charges for less than a dollar, or any transactions you don’t remember, contact your financial institution immediately.
Keep Contact Information Updated
Your financial institution needs to have the best phone number, email address and postal address to reach you at. You will be contacted if suspicious activity pops up on your account – but you’ll only get the alert if your information is correct.
Practice Safe Online Shopping Habits
Before clicking on a link in an email, hover over it and look at the URL. If it doesn’t match up with the URL of the business, don’t click on it. You can manually type the URL of that business in your browser and go from there.
If you do go to a site you’re unsure of, avoid submitting your birth date, postal address or work information. This is also true if you’re on a public internet connection. Do not log into accounts or make purchases unless you have a secure internet connection and the website starts with “https.”
For mobile, only download apps from trusted sources. Don’t click to download from a website; log on to iTunes or Google’s store and purchase from there.
Following these tips will not only help keep your information safe this holiday season, they’ll protect you all year long!