Securing Personal Information When Buying Online

Finding a good deal online and paying for it with just the click of a mouse is a great convenience. It can quickly turn into a nightmare, though, if your credit card number or personal information is stolen.

Securing personal information online protects your privacy and makes buying online safe and worry-free.

Your Personal Information: Online Protection

You can reduce the possibility of having your personal information or credit card data stolen by limiting the amount of personal information that you use online. Start by using just one credit card for all of your online transactions. The less personal information you enter online, the safer you’ll be.

Avoid responding to emails from unfamiliar senders. Identity thieves regularly send out emails that appear to come from your bank, your credit card company or an online vendor with whom you already do business. These suspicious emails may ask you to verify credit card information or passwords.

Not only shouldn’t you respond, but don’t even click on links in the message. If you want access to your bank account or a vendor’s website, leave your email and access them through your usual outside links. If you accidentally clicked on a link, contact your bank or credit card company by phone to verify your account status.

Look for Online Seals that Ensure Online Privacy

Some merchants register with online companies that place a seal on their website that shows that they abide by certain business standards. Companies such as TRUSTe, VeriSign or BBBonline use these seals to verify that a site is authentic and secure or that your online privacy is protected. Generally, you can trust websites with these seals, but they don’t provide a 100 percent guarantee that the site is entirely safe.

Use Up-to-Date Security Software

Hackers use devices such as cookies, malware and viruses to steal your personal information. Even visiting a corrupt website is enough to plant a virus on your computer. If you have up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software, you should be protected from most of these threats. For the best coverage, purchase software that automatically updates to give you the latest protection, often on a daily basis.

If your computer starts behaving in strange or unpredictable ways, stop immediately and run a scan on your computer to look for malware or viruses. Also, delete cookies regularly; look in your browser’s “Tools” menu for help.

Change Passwords to Protect Personal Information Online

Passwords are effective only as long as nobody else knows them. Your personal information online is better protected if you change your passwords every 90 days.

When picking passwords, avoid using common information such as your birth date or social security number, and use a different password for each website. Choose a password with at least eight characters comprised of both numbers and letters.