Everything is easier online, right? Especially shopping, which is why online shopping has become so popular. The problem is hackers also know that online shopping has become more popular, and it’s also become more lucrative for them. As easy as online shopping is, you also need to beware when you are buying things online. Here are five ways to protect your identity when shopping online.

Use Strong Passwords

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when doing anything online is using weak passwords that are easily cracked by hackers. A recent study showed that the most popular online passwords are things like 123456 or just the word “password.” These are easy targets for hackers. When you are signing up for a membership on any site that requires you to input your credit card information, make sure you are using a strong password. The best password is one with a random string of letters and numbers. You can even use the numbers to help spell passwords, like “gr3m1in” or “sw33th3art”.

Shop in a Secure Environment

Never do any online shopping on an unsecure network. First, avoid inputting your credit card or personal information on any computer that isn’t yours, especially public computers like at the library or a hotel. Second, avoid using a public Wifi network if you are going to be shopping online. Public computers and Wifi networks can be easily hacked. Make sure you are on your own private computer and are using a secure Wifi network before you do any shopping.

Use Security Software

Another way to guarantee a secure environment is to use a security software suite, like Norton or McAfee. These suites have launched new features recently that let you do all of your banking and online shopping in a completely secure web browser, often called a “vault.” These security software suites also have extra protection like anti-keylogging software, that makes sure hackers aren’t recording what you type. They also help protect your computer and your private information in general, so they are always a good idea to have.

Check Your Bills

This may seem like an odd suggestion, but checking your bills every month can be a life saver when it comes to identity theft. The key is to look for any suspicious activity on your billing statement. This is the easiest way to catch an identity thief if they are using your credit card information. If you find suspicious activity on your bill, contact your credit card company immediately, as well as the local police. It may seem like overkill to inform the police, but a criminal report will help speed up the process when you are trying to recover your identity.

Get Identity Theft Protection

If you are worried about becoming a victim of identity theft and aren’t sure what you will need to do if you do become a victim, an identity theft protection service can help. First, they will monitor your credit reports, personal information and other black market channels to make sure your identity isn’t be used without your knowledge. If you do become a victim of identity theft, they can also help you file the correct paperwork, and can also offer up to $1 million in insurance to help restore your identity. (This insurance money does not cover any fraudulent payments made on your credit cards.) Here is a good list of some of the best identity theft services to choose from.