TIPS TO PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT
Below are some holiday shopping tips to prevent identity theft from Identity Finder (www.identityfinder.com), a company whose software helps prevent electronic identity theft.
- Download Updates. Do click "Update Now" when you receive security updates from Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe; Don't avoid these updates that arm you with the latest fixes before starting to shop. Web application exploits are very common now and can harm you if you simply go to a bad website.
- Create Complex Passwords. Do mix letter cases and use at least seven characters when placing an order online; Don't choose a word from a dictionary. Passwords are guessed very quickly by hacker programs.
- Thwart Hackers. Do use your wireless router's security features when surfing the web; Don't let hackers join your network where they can try to listen in on your shopping experience. Hackers can use network sniffers to eavesdrop on you.
- Use Onetime Credit Cards. Do shop online using a virtual credit card that expires after one use; Don't use your actual credit card numbers on less familiar websites. Some websites masquerade as shops but really just steal your credit card numbers.
- Verify Secure Connections. Do make sure the padlock symbol in your browser's status bar shows that you have a secure connection when conducting online financial transactions; Don't press submit if there is no padlock at a store. Padlocks represent an SSL connection, which protects any information you send.
- Check Your Credit. Do visit annualcreditreport.com before and after the holidays; Don't wait until you receive a bill for a credit card that isn't really yours. Your credit report shows all your accounts and overdue balances.
- Lock Up Your Passwords. Do use a password manager to save all your passwords; Don't save passwords in your web browser without a master password to protect them. Password managers encrypt all of your passwords with a master password so you only have to remember the one.
- Enter Web Addresses Manually. Do go directly to a store's website by typing its address into your web browser manually if you plan to buy something; Don't click on links from an email message. These are known as phishing attacks and are very common.
- Shop From Your Computer. Do shop online using your own computer; Don't shop online using a public computer at a hotel or airport. Public computers can have spyware that records your information as you type it.
- Communicate Securely. Do call a business and read them your credit card information if you trust them and want to buy a present for someone; Don't e-mail or instant message personal information. E-mail and instant messenger are insecure.
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