A recent situation prompted a discussion with one of my bank’s fraud officers. My question to her was, “How can people ensure their online shopping is safe?” Check out what I learned, and see how secure you’re keeping YOUR bank information.
- Always look for two security features:
The address line should read https://, not just http://. The “s” means the site is secure. The address should change when you view your shopping cart, or even on the website’s main page. The second feature to look for is the little padlock or globe icon. I can find these at the bottom of my web browser and can click on the image for the security status.
- Isolate your accounts:
Consider opening a separate checking account for all web-based purchases. Keep a low balance, and only deposit money when you are preparing to make a purchase. Additionally, use the debit card number for online purchases, NOT your account and routing number. Cards can easily be turned off and reordered. Account numbers cannot.
- Use pre-paid debit cards:
Pre-paid debit cards or gift cards are completely separate from your bank account. You deposit a specific amount on to a card, and purchase or reload as necessary. Companies such as Visa and Mastercard offer these products, and your financial institution should also have some on hand. Note: There may be a small fee to activate, but isn’t a buck or two worth the added security?
- Change those passwords:
Regularly update your passwords and keep them unique for each log in. If you record your logins and passwords, keep it encrypted. Rather than writing out the full password, reference something that will remind you of it. Yes, a password for your password. This extra step helps make your personal file of logins and passwords “useless” to a computer hacker.
- Protect your home computer:
Do you have up-to-date and efficient virus protection? If you’re working with outdated software, it’s time for an upgrade. If you notice a change in the connection and processing speed, it would be wise to have it checked out and cleaned by a professional.
Some additional pointers… If you become a victim to fraud, you will need to report the claim to the merchant associated (i.e. Paypal) as well as your financial institution. If the problem isn’t logged, no one can help you resolve it. Here’s to safe shopping!