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7 Tips On Avoiding Cybercrimes This Holiday Season

This holiday season, you should be aware that cybercrimes are steadily on the rise and there are actions that you can take to secure your digital footprint and make sure you are not a victim. Here are 7 tips:

Tip#1: Use A Secure Wi-Fi Connection

When you go online in a public place, like a coffee shop or library, remember that hackers who share the Wi-Fi connection can track the web sites you visit and what you type. That’s why it’s dangerous to make online purchases or enter any private information on an unsecure connection. Instead, do your shopping from a secure connection at home.

Tip #2: Purchase from Trusted Web Sites

When you find something you want to buy online, consider the reputation of the web site. If you’re unfamiliar with the company or aren’t sure if it’s safe, don’t make a purchase just because it is a good deal. Also, don’t follow a link in an email to an online store because it could be controlled by a cyber-criminal who simply wants your confidential data. Type the web site address directly into your browser to make sure you’re going to the right site.

Tip #3: Secure your mobile device

Make sure have the most up-to-date anti-virus software and that you are using a PIN to lock your phone. In addition, use long and strong passwords that don't repeat across accounts.

Tip #4: Use Unique Passwords

If you need to create an online account to make a purchase from a web site, be sure to create a new, unique password. As tempting as it is to use the same password over and over for all your online accounts, it’s very dangerous. A thief who steals one password puts all your accounts at risk. You can use a password protection software that generates strong passwords and safely stores them, so all you need to remember is one master password.

Tip #5: Look for Data Encryption

Once you load up a web site’s shopping cart, make sure that you enter your personal data, like your address and credit card number on an encrypted web page. Encryption is a security measure that scrambles your information while it’s in cyber space and requires a key to unscramble it on the receiving end. You’ll know a web page is safe when the “http” in the web address changes to “https” (the “s” stands for secure). Also, look for a locked padlock icon on the page that you can click for additional security information.

Tip #6: Use a Credit Card

When you make online purchases, always use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards offer much more protection if someone steals your number and makes fraudulent purchases without your knowledge.

If you’re uncomfortable entering your credit card number on a web site, don’t swear off online shopping. Some card issuers offer virtual credit cards, which are designed to be used online in place of your real credit card number. A virtual card has a temporary number that can only be used once or with a specific merchant, so a criminal would be out of luck if they stole it. You can also use a virtual credit card, which allows you to shop online without exposing your credit card number to vendors.

Tip #7: Review Your Account Statements

It’s important to review each of your bank and credit card account statements at least once a month. Match your debit and credit card receipts to make sure that you were charged the right amount and that there are no fraudulent charges. Check your accounts regularly for any suspicious activity or unauthorized charges and set up notifications, through your bank or a banking app, which will track your credit card transactions and alert you of account activity. The idea is to catch it early.

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