Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Five (7) tips to ensure safe online purchases...

This is an article I read, over at TechRepublic, by a great blogger named Michael Kassner. He recently fell prey to conveinence over safety. The five tips he lists are very benefical, may seem like "common sense," but even the greatest of techies' fall short in their effort of shopping safe online. Here are the five tips Michael provides:

1: Use a credit card provider that offers one-time credit card numbers

This is where I got sloppy. I normally use a credit card provider that offers one-time numbers. But I was in a hurry and didn’t. What I gained at the moment was lost times 10 when I had to clean up my mess. Using my one-time credit card number would have removed any possibility of someone reusing the stolen information.

2: Make sure the Web site is valid and trustworthy

I recently wrote a piece on Blackhat SEO and how criminals are subverting real Web sites with malware or creating believable copies of real Web sites loaded with malware. I suggest using one or more of the site-rating Web-browser extensions. If the site is problematic, you will know.

Some of the better-known extensions are Web of Trust, LinkExtend, and McAfee SiteAdvisor. You also have the option to check questionable domains on the extension developer’s Web site.

3: Check to see whether the Internet connection is secure

This may seem obvious, but people get lulled into complacency. I have to remind myself to double-check that a closed padlock is displayed, that https is used, and that the certificate is valid — ideally, an EV certificate. Each Web browser uses a slightly different approach, so make sure you understand how your browser advertises secure Internet connections.

4: Beware of deceptive or disguised offers

Last year, I wrote an article about coupon-click fraud and how people were unknowingly signing up for programs or offers they did not want. When you’re filling out the information required to make an online purchase, carefully read what all the check boxes represent, regardless of whether they’re selected. Opt-in and opt-out wording may be interchanged.

5: If actively shopping on the Internet, check often for unusual debit/credit card transactions

This tip is important. In almost all cases, discovering fraudulent charges early will lessen the impact of the problem. In fact, financial institutions usually absorb the charges if they’re reported within a few days. So check often and know the liability limits used by your debit/credit card provider.

Extra tip: Call the order in if there is any doubtSounds simple enough, but many people don’t think of it. If I have any concerns at all, I will call the order in. The company may still have problems, but you don’t have to worry about its Web site being malicious or phishing for your financial information.

Another extra tip: Keep track of monthly or revolving debit/credit card chargesI now have a list of all my monthly charges, like the YMCA. I hope I won’t need it, but if my credit card information is compromised again, I will know who to contact.

Final thoughts: I got caught, giving convenience the nod over security. The above advice should prevent a reoccurrence. I hope l take it.

An extra tip I would add is to USE PAYPAL when shopping on eBay. Ebay is good about stressing the importance of using Paypal, I just thought I would mention it. Also, AVG utilizes the safe Web-extension serive in their
free anti-virus protection, so you don't have to purchase McAfee or others for that service. Make sure, when you're on websites that have you enter information, to check that you see "https" in the address bar at the top of the browser. The padlock is important to notice too.

For more resources on internet security click here.

Michael Kassner's blog posts and blog.

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