Worried about keeping your personal and financial information safe when you’re online?
You can better protect yourself from identity thieves and online scammers if you follow these Internet safety tips.
1. Protect Your Passwords
Good Internet safety begins with strong passwords. So protect your financial and private information by maintaining strong passwords on all your online accounts.
Mix letters and numbers and special characters when creating passwords. Use both upper- and lowercase letters, and make it at least 10 characters. Avoid using your name, birthdate or common words in your password.
Keep your passwords in a safe and secure place, and update them regularly.
For strong Internet safety, you’ll want to avoid using the same password for several accounts. Otherwise, if a thief cracks that password, they could get access to your other private financial accounts. So be creative and mix up your passwords.
Avoid sharing your password in texts or emails. A legitimate company won’t ask you to do this. So if you get a request, it’s probably a scam.
Think about Internet safety whenever you use a public computer. Never save your login information, and be sure to log out completely when you are finished.
2. Only Shop or Bank at Encrypted Websites
Internet safety means being choosy about the websites where you bank and shop.
Look for https at the beginning of a web address. The “s” indicates that the site is secure. Make sure you are using a secure website that encrypts the information when submitting private information such as a credit card number or your name or address online.
Shop with trusted online retailers that use reputable payment processors such as PayPal. Check for a padlock icon on your browser before shopping with an online retailer.
3. Keep Your Security Software Up to Date
Internet safety means having the latest security software on your home computer or laptop and keeping it updated. Free security checkups are available from many major companies. Never buy security software in response to an unexpected pop-up message or email that says your computer has been scanned and malware has been detected. Scammers use these messages to trick buyers into buying bogus software.
4. Don’t Fall for Phony Emails
Be safe on the Internet by steering clear of scams. Scammers that send you unsolicited emails that take you to phony financial websites are hoping you will share private account information and password information with them. Don’t fall for it. A legitimate company will not ask you to this. If you have doubts about the legitimacy of an email or website, contact the financial institution directly. Phone the customer service number on your latest bank or credit card statement.
A scammer may also send you an unsolicited bogus email promising you a guaranteed loan or credit card without a credit check. They want to grab your personal financial information and steal your identity. Don’t be fooled.
Keep your email account safe by deleting any email that seems suspicious immediately.
Also, it’s a good idea to get your credit reports and credit scores regularly to check for potential signs of fraud. Check your credit reports for accounts that don’t belong to you or other errors, and watch your credit scores for big, sudden changes that require you to take a closer look at your credit reports and existing credit accounts. You can get your free credit report summary, updated every month, on Credit.com.