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June 02, 2011

  • Shopping Safely Online, Pt.3
       Create a sense of mystery.

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    Shopping online does not require that you give the merchant your Social Security Number (SNN). If a seller asks for anything more than your debit or credit card information and shipping address, it is probably a scam. The choice is simple; either abandon the purchase or research the merchant. Thieves can use your SSN to steal your identity. They do so by opening up one credit card account and then continue until they get caught or use all available credit before abandoning the identity and leaving the victim sitting with a mess to clean up.

    For security purposes, most banks and credit card companies require you pick a secret question and answer to assist in verification that you are the legitimate account holder and not a fraudster. These security questions are used if you should forget your password or if you attempt to sign into your account from a public or unknown computer with a different IP address. When doing so, choose unique questions with answers that cannot be accessed by the public such as your favorite movie or author. Avoid standard questions such as mother's maiden name or your date of birth. Nowadays, with ancestry websites readily accessible or social networks with personal profiles, this type of information can be obtained by most individuals.

    Install a reliable anti-virus, anti-phishing, and malware software to prevent identity and credit card thieves from accessing your personal information while you are shopping online. Although not 100 percent fool-proof, updating regularly and choosing a well-known program will greatly reduce the chance of your computer being infected by a virus or Trojan.

    Legitimate businesses take precautions to protect your debit and credit card information by establishing an encrypted link between their web server and a browser. When this is done, the merchant is certified with Standard Security Logo (SSL). The logo will be displayed at the bottom of the web page. When shopping online, always check for the SSL logo.

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