It’s quickly becoming one of the most popular ways for consumers to shop for goods and services. It doesn’t require you to purchase gas, wait in long lines, or even comb your hair. And thanks to advances in technology, you can now do it right from your phone. It’s online shopping. And while it’s definitely the easiest, most convenient way to shop, it does present some risks. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself:
- Be sure that your browser and virus protection software are always up to date.
- Do business only with merchants you know and trust. If you are unsure if a merchant is legitimate, contact the Better Business Bureau offices in Maryland or Virginia before purchasing anything.
- Ensure the merchant site you are on is secure. Never enter sensitive information, such as your credit card number on pages that that don’t have the “s” in “https.”
- Exercise caution when using public Wi-Fi networks, as many of these networks don’t encrypt the information your send over the Internet. OnGuardOnline.gov has advice on how you can better protect your information when surfing on these networks.
- Use strong and unique passwords. While managing multiple passwords may seem inconvenient, it’s a smart way to protect yourself. Choose unique passwords, including a combination of letters and numbers for each online retailer. Your passwords should be at least six characters in length, and not be easily discernible, so don’t use your birthday, pet’s name or address. It’s a good idea to change your passwords regularly as well.
If you suspect your credit card information has been compromised, contact your credit card company immediately.
To learn more about other ways to protect yourself, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
A little bit of caution can go a long way in helping you protect the identity you’ve worked a lifetime to build.