Optimize Your Online Security

by Washington Federal Team on May 8, 2012

Major security breaches now seem commonplace and online privacy remains a hot issue for people of all walks of life. Protecting yourself online can be a daunting task, but with a little bit of effort on your part, you can be assured a higher level of security online. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself.

1. Use Several Passwords

Many people use one password for all of their various computer applications, and although this may seem convenient, it can also allow a hacker to gain access to everything from your Facebook account to your secure financial information at an online merchant. If you use several different passwords, it can be harder for would-be scammers to access all of your information online. Be sure to change your passwords on a regular basis and make your passwords relatively complex by including upper case and lower case letters, symbols and numbers.

2. Use Gift Cards and Not Credit or Debit Cards Online

Many online merchants allow you to save information from your credit or debit cards on their secure servers to facilitate easy checkout, but that stored information could fall into the wrong hands. If you want to be safe, consider purchasing gift cards from your favorite merchants and then using those to shop online. In this way, you prevent any of your financial information from being susceptible to online attack.

3. Check Merchant Ratings Before Making a Purchase

You recognize and trust many sites online. But if you’re opting to make a purchase from a merchant with less brand recognition, search around to see what other customers had to say about them. If they are reputable, the reviews should reflect that. If they are less secure, prone to fraud or offer poor customer service, it is best to avoid them, especially if the prices they offer on the goods you want seem too good to be true. Also, don’t give away personal information in exchange for coupons or deals. Many merchants advertise these – and often these are legitimate proposals. But scammers also try to take advantage of people by using incentives as bait. In this case, the old adage holds true: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

 

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