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7 Tips for Shopping Safely Online

Protect yourself from cybercriminals

The internet has opened a new world of convenience, but with that convenience come new threats to cybersecurity. As the holiday season fast approaches, increased online shopping activity means that your personal information may be at risk if you are not careful. As cybercriminals continue to grow more and more sophisticated, it’s important for our customers to know how to protect themselves. Here are seven steps consumers can take to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime.

7 tips to avoid cyber threats

Protecting yourself from cyber threats begins with practicing safe behavior online. Follow these tips when shopping for loved ones this holiday season:

  1. Stick to known websites. Avoid websites that may look sketchy, but if you have to take a chance on an unknown retailer, do some research first. Find out more about the company to be sure that they have a positive reputation. 
  2. Look for “https” in the URL. Before inputting credit card or other personal information, make sure there is an “s” after the “http” in the web address. The “s” indicates that the site you are on is secure, ensuring that your personal information is protected.
  3. Keep your SSN to yourself. No retailer needs your Social Security Number (SSN) or other personal information. If an online retailer asks for your SSN, birth date or something else that seems suspicious, it’s in your best interest to shop elsewhere.
  4. Beware of suspicious emails. While phishing scams are becoming more difficult to spot, if you look closely, there is always some detail that is a little off. If something seems odd – even if you can’t quite determine what it is – it’s best to just delete it. And if it is a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Move those emails to the trash where they belong.
  5. Be careful on Wi-Fi. Avoid using public Wi-Fi to conduct online shopping. If the wireless connection is not secure, it is easier for cybercriminals to access your information. Conduct your internet shopping at home on a secured connection.
  6. Avoid weak passwords. Don’t use the same password for every website and make sure the password is strong, using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Also, consider using two-step verification on accounts if it is available. This system provides an extra form of security by requiring a second method of identification to access accounts.
  7. Check banking statements. As cybercrime continues to grow more sophisticated, even the safest online shopper could still be susceptible to fraud. Monitor your bank accounts regularly so you can report fraudulent charges as quickly as possible. 

While cybercrime can be scary, you shouldn’t let it deter you from shopping online. Following the above steps can help you keep you from becoming a target.

These tips are provided by the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA), representing banks and thrifts in the state. The IBA serves it members by providing legislative advocacy, training, regulatory compliance and other services designed to enhance the ability of banks to serve their communities.  Learn more at www.iowabankers.com.

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