5 ways to protect your bank account while banking or shopping online

For years, nearly anyone who is online has shopped through a web browser. And now nearly 3 out of 4 internet users do some banking online. And while banks and retailers have gotten better at protecting your private financial information, online criminals have gotten savvier at stealing it.

As we prepare for the holiday season, we thought we’d review a few smart tactics to make sure that the only one who is spending your money is you.

1. Make sure your PC is patched and protected.
This is a standard piece of advice we always share but it’s especially crucial for people who rely on their PC for their financial transactions. Keep your PC updated with the latest system, application and security software. Our free Health Check makes this easy. With an updated and protected PC, you’ll avoid more than 99% of the trouble you might face online.

2. Go directly to the site
When you’re shopping online, it’s always best to stick to retailers you know and trust. Go to the site directly and search there. Avoid clicking on links in your email to go to a store or your bank so you don’t end up at a scam site. If your bank contacts you with a problem, go to the site on your own, or just pick up the phone and give them a call.

3. Look for the “s” in “https:”.
Only enter your information in if you see that extra “s” in your URL. It stands for secured and it’s an extra layer of protection that keeps your account information private.

4. Shop and bank when you’re secure.
Only shop when you know you’re on a network and a PC that’s protected. A computer in an Internet cafe may have a keylogger that tracks your credit card number or password. An open “free Wi-Fi” network, may be convenient. But it’s also risky for shopping or banking. If you use your smartphone or tablet to shop or bank, make sure you have security software on it that includes anti-theft protection that will you allow you to deactivate your device if you lose it. That way when you lose your phone you don’t lose control of your money.

5. Check your accounts.
Try to limit your online shopping to one credit card, and make sure you check that account on a regular basis. Make it a weekly chore to check your account statement and your bank account. Then you’ll be ready to contact your institutions as soon as you notice a problem. The longer a criminal has access to your account, the more trouble they can do–of course.

With these few precautions, you can worry less about your security and more about what you’d actually like to buy.

Cheers,
Sandra

Image credit: Images_of_Money

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