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Shopping Online: Is Your Identity Safe?

September 12, 2018 | By Louis Tully

Living in the digital age has certainly made everyday life a lot easier. In fact, life hasn’t been the same ever since the mid-90s when the Internet made its way into consumer’s homes for the first time. When we needed to go to work, we used to go to the office. When we needed to study for a test, we went to the library. When we needed to go shopping, we went to the store. All that is changed now.

Everything can be done from home with the click of a mouse or the tap of your thumb. Everything we do now fits in the palm of our hands. Talk about convenient! But that convenience comes at a cost. Things haven’t just gotten easier for us everyday consumers, they’ve got a lot easier for identity thieves too. If a sudden financial situation has got you reaching for installment loans, the last thing you need is someone stealing your identity. Here are a few useful tips you can use to help protect yourself:

Use Stronger Passwords

While you don’t have any control over server breaches, you do have control over your password. Your password is the key that keeps your online account locked where only you can get in. Create a password that’s tough to crack. Making a password that’s easy to remember like ‘1-2-3-4’ is also easy to figure out, for example. When setting up a password, keep these helpful tips in mind:

  • Use random characters.
  • Use a combination of letters and numbers.
  • Never share your password with anyone.
  • Never save your password.

Also, remember to use reliable anti-virus software and keep your subscription up to date. This will also help keep your valuable information out of the hands of hackers.

Check Your Credit Report Regularly

If someone has stolen your information, you usually wouldn’t realize it until it’s already too late. That’s why it’s critical to check your credit report on a regular basis. By checking your report, you can easily see if someone has opened an account or loan under your name, report it to the credit bureau, and prevent further damage. Checking your report is free and easy to do with sites like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. Download these app so you can check on your phone whenever, wherever.

Use Cash for Gas

Whenever it’s time to revisit the pump, proceed with caution! The most common place where credit card information is stolen is at the gas pump. To steal your information, thieves use devices called skimmers, which they install onto existing card readers. The skimmer reads your card information while it’s in use and the data is sent straight to the perpetrator. In this scenario, you won’t even realize you’ve been victimized until it’s too late. To prevent this, start using cash to pay for gas!

Remove Your Payment Information

If you’re a frequent online shopper, you know how easy it is to buy online. Just set up an account, connect your payment info and presto! The only problem here is if someone gets a hold of your log in info, they’ll have your payment info too.

Granted most sites are secure enough to prevent exposing your card numbers and such, but it’s still best to remove that info altogether if you want to be extra safe. When shopping online, log in as a guest and enter your card number manually. It’s a little tedious, but hey, making it a little harder for yourself to shop could be good for your bottom line!

Report Fraudulent Charges

Lastly, the best thing you can do to keep yourself protected is to keep a sharp eye on your account statements. If you have online access to your bank account, you can easily check your recent purchase history from your smartphone or computer to make sure everything is normal. If you see a charge you don’t recognize, don’t panic.

Call your bank and let them review it with you. If you can confirm that you didn’t make the purchase, most banks will refund the money and open an investigation. In fact, banks have recently taken steps to proactively prevent credit theft by tracking your spending patterns. If something seems out of place, your bank will notify you immediately.

Keep Your Options Open

While these tips could prove helpful in keeping your finances protected, financial emergencies still happen. If you need instant financial relief, remember that signature loans could help you get back on your feet.