Hackers seem to be hitting more stores and sites these days then every before, which means that shoppers need to be as diligent as ever when it comes to protecting themselves against identity theft. One of the easiest places for hackers to hit is websites where you need to enter your personal and financial information. That doesn’t mean you have to give up the convenience of online shopping; you just need to be careful when you are shopping online. Here are four tips to help you protect yourself when you are shopping online:
1. Only Use Secure Sites
Whenever you are entering your credit card information on a site, always make sure it is secure. How do you know if it’s secure? There are two ways. First, a secure site will have https:// before the url instead of just http://. If you can’t see the https://, type it in before the url. If the site doesn’t load, it doesn’t have an https:// address and might not be secured. If you are using the Chrome browser, there will be a green lock next to the url of the site, designating that it is a secured site. If a site is secure, it means it is using an SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, which means that the site is encrypted and it is harder for hackers to access the information you enter into the site.
2. Use a Secure Browser
This is another great way to protect yourself from identity theft. Browsers alone can’t stop a hacker from grabbing your information for an unsecured site. However, many security software systems, like Kaspersky or Avast, offer private, secure browser windows that operate outside of your desktop, so it is that much harder for hackers to access what you are doing. These browsers are especially helpful when it comes to banking or shopping online. It is smart to have security software anyway, as they offer other anti-hacker features like password protections, anti-keylogging software, digital file shredder and firewalls.
3. Change Up Your Passwords
This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make with their online profiles. People use one password for all their online profiles, which is easier for them to remember, yes, but it is also easier for hackers to discover their one password and then hack every account they have. Change up your password for each of your online profiles, especially ones that have your personal or financial information attached to them. Use a complicated password that involves a random string of numbers and passwords to make it more difficult for hackers to hack. If you need to easy passwords to remember, you can replace letters with numbers, like pa55word.
4. Monitor for Identity Theft Signs
Even if you are super careful, you can still become a victim of identity theft. The best way to minimize the damage of identity theft is to look for the signs that you’ve become a victim. First, check all of your bank and credit card statements to make sure there are no unusual charges on any of them. If someone stole your information, this would be the first indication. If they have opened accounts in your name, there may be no clues, so it’s good to check your credit report every so often to make sure no financial accounts have been opened in your name without your knowledge. If you don’t want to take the time to be diligent about checking your statements or credit reports, you can sign up for an identity theft protection service, which will check both of these things, as well as your social security number, address changes, public records and the black market for your information. The best of these services are Lifelock (which you can save 10% on here) and Identity Force (which you can get a 14-day free trial on here).