You can never be too careful with your information these days. This applies to shoppers and merchants alike. 2014 saw cyber criminals compromise the credit card processing systems at retail giants Home Depot and Target and the spoils of war included sensitive customer data they had gotten hold of.
Online identity theft is a serious issue that can damage one’s credit, especially acknowledging the fact that many of these cases never get resolved fully. Whenever financial information and the Internet are mentioned in the same breath with respect to security of the former, prevention is always the best cure.
Here are three ways you can protect your financial data online:
Be Wary of Wireless Networks
Let’s face it, whenever we are burning time at the airport, hotel or coffee shop, one sure way to feel good about ourselves is catch up on things we’ve been putting on hold. You would be surprised, mind you, at the volume of purchases made while whiling away at these spots, or even on public transport.
If you just have to access personal data at such locations, at least look for a secured network and ask for the password from the respective staff: receptionist or other employee. You’ll know a secure network with a lock symbol denoting a locked padlock on the left side of the address bar.
An encrypted and password-secured Wi-Fi goes a great deal in safeguarding your data. Even when using wireless connection at home, remember to enable encryption and have in place a strong password.
Double-check the ‘S’
Whenever you find yourself on a sign-in page, particularly the checkout page, confirm that it commences with ‘https’. This guarantees you that the site is secured via SSL encryption.
Some browsers will also display either a lock or key on the left side of the URL which but assures one that it is a secure site. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of being directed to imitation websites that are copies of the original sites you’re familiar with (Facebook, Amazon etc.). This is a popular ploy identity thieves use to phish confidential information through; and with good success.
If you don’t see the ‘S’ at the end of that http, just keep away. And if feel skeptical about any particular website, link, or email for some reason, just don’t risk it.
Don’t be an Open Book on Social Media
Social media has become such an integral part of our lives that it has clouded many things, literally and figuratively. Some of the stuff we share may tell a little too much. Lurking here are identity thieves who may create fraudulent accounts to interact with or research potential victims. Armed with sufficient data, they can guess the answers to your security questions, gain entry into your bank accounts or access other sensitive information.
And it’s not just hackers you should be wary of. You may just end up tipping burglars by sharing that photo on the beach in Hawaii or African safari, or even everyday tasks like a visit to the groceries perhaps? Also, avoid posting revealing details like your physical address or where your kids go to school, phone numbers, email (now this explains that junk mail!), or other information you would deem sensitive.
Just because it’s social media doesn’t mean we are one big happy united family.
Play safe, you’ll be safe.