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Protecting Your Identity Online

The convenience of online shopping and online bill payment has led many people to start performing a number of financial transactions online. Online transactions aren't necessarily less safe than other types of transactions (such as purchases by phone), but there are some special precautions you should take.

  • Have one credit card to use online. As mentioned before, have a single card that you only use for online purchases, and don't use other cards online.

  • Use only secure sites. Make sure that your browser reflects that the site you're using is encrypted. If you get any warnings about bad information or expired security certificates, do not use that site.

  • Update your browser regularly. The secure page is only as good as your browser's security. Keep up with the latest versions and security patches for your web browser. Otherwise, you might be the chump that hackers are waiting for.

  • Never count on a link in an email message to be trustworthy. Links can be forged. One common trick used by identity thieves is to send you a link that looks good in the email, but actually points to a different site. Be safe—type the link by hand.

  • NEVER send info via email. Unless you're using encrypted email—and chances are overwhelming that you're not—nothing you send in email is secure. Period. Email is plain text, and can easily be intercepted. Never send sensitive financial information to anyone via email.

Oh, and did I mention that email is not secure, and that you should never send anything sensitive via email? Good.

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