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5 Ways to Protect Yourself When Shopping Online

Jackie Nelson

Jackie Nelson

Feature Writer

2 min. read

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If your favorite online activity is triumphantly clicking “Add to Cart” when you find a good deal, you’ve probably wondered: 1) When will my package arrive and 2) How do I make sure my information is safe? We don’t know when your package will arrive, but we can help you out with the other question.

National Consumer Protection Week is happening right now (March 3-9) with the goal of promoting awareness of consumer rights and smart financial decisions. What better way to celebrate than by making sure your online safety habits are in tip-top shape.

We searched our archives for five simple steps you can take today to seriously safeguard your online information. A little bit of action can go a long way toward enhancing your online financial security.

1. Change your password

First things first. You need a complex, yet easy-to-remember password. Whether it’s for your online banking or your Target account, the strongest passwords will contain a mix of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Definitely don’t use “password” as your password. A weak password is like keeping your front door shut, but not locked. The internet is not a safe neighborhood. Lock your door.

2. Lock it up

Speaking of locking things, you also need to set a passcode on your phone, laptop, iPad, or any other device that could contain your sensitive data. Getting robbed of your devices is awful, but a whole new level of panic will set in if you don’t set a lock code to defend your credit card or other personal information. Be the Smokey the Bear of your credit card info – only YOU can prevent unauthorized shopping sprees.

3. Check your credit report

It’s easy to check your bank account online, but don’t forget to monitor your credit report as well. Being mindful of your open accounts, your current credit score and credit utilization is a fundamental step in preventing and recognizing identity theft.

4. Clear your browser of sensitive data

It might be mega convenient to store all your information on your web browser for a quicker checkout, but beware – this convenience comes with high risk. If someone were to get your browsing history or find your unlocked computer (see step 2), they could easily and quickly gather all they needed to steal your identity and hard-earned money.

5. Get new protection software

Last but not least, don’t forget to download the latest antivirus software. Preventing cyber attacks might sound intimidating, but with antivirus software, you don’t have to know anything or do anything to keep your information safe – it does it all for you.

Take just five minutes out of your busy day to protect yourself and do your part to celebrate National Consumer Protection Week. Let the online shopping commence with a new peace of mind.

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