News & Features | Nov 23rd, 2011
From Black Friday to Cyber Monday: 5 Tips to Avoid Online Credit Fraud
Sure you do, but what steps are you taking to make sure you don't also score the attention of hackers and other cyber-thieves?
Implement these five tips to ensure smooth and safe online shopping:
- Use a personal VPN. Having your transactions encrypted with a personal VPN like PRIVATE WiFi is the most recommended way to surf online in wireless hotspots. So if you plan to score deals while in a public wifi environment -- say, while waiting for your flight at the airport or just hanging out at your favorite coffee shop -- use a personal VPN to prevent hackers from sniffing your sensitive financial data.
- Shop smart. Choose respectable and trustworthy companies. Not sure about a site's reputation? Search their name to see how they rank with the Better Business Bureau, and Google the site's name to see what you find about them -- both good and bad.
- Choose credit (not debit) for online purchases. This simple step can offer you additional security, thanks to the federal Fair Credit Billing Act. Plus, if your card offers a reward program, you could rack up points while shopping. Just make sure to keep a record of all purchases.
- Consider where you click. The Federal Trade Commission's new "Paying It Safe" guide to e-payments advises never giving your password to anyone online, never downloading files sent to you by strangers, and never clicking on hyperlinks from people you don’t know. Opening a file could expose your system to a computer virus or a program that could hijack your modem.
- Monitor your mobile apps. A National Retail Federation survey revealed more people are using mobile devices (50% will use a smartphone; 70% will use a tablet) to research items and make purchases. However, if you use your smartphone or tablet to shop online, be sure to click "no" when asked whether you want a site to remember your password. If you lose your phone or tablet and someone finds it, your account details will be unprotected and the chance of becoming a credit fraud victim increases significantly.