The Dangers of Identity Theft While Shopping Online
Shopping online is very convenient, and most of us buy items from online vendors regularly. However, each time you open a new account or shop online, there is a chance that someone is gathering that information to steal your identity. Thieves gain access to this information in a number of ways, but the more you know about how they do it, the better you can protect yourself while shopping on the Internet. Use these tips whether you’re buying or just browsing:
Have a firewall and keep your antivirus software updated
Since most of us do our online shopping at home, make sure that you install a firewall on your network and keep your antivirus programs updated at all times. You can download several good ones free.
Review your credit card statements carefully when you pay bills
Get in the habit of carefully examining each credit card statement every month when you pay your bills. You can catch unauthorized purchases or merchants overcharging you for purchases you make, and this is a very smart money management habit.
Never, ever buy from unsolicited email spammers
Identity thieves play the percentages. They know that a very small number of people will fall for their scams, but enough do to make it worthwhile. Even if an email looks like it came from a reputable vendor, don’t click on any links. Visit the official site instead.
Subscribe to an identity monitoring service
Even the most informed and vigilant consumer can’t monitor his or her identity 24/7/365. However, an identity monitoring service can and keeps working around the clock to protect your identity and those of family members, too! Every time you make a purchase in your name, you’ll know about it, and if the purchase is fraudulent, you can take immediate steps to protect yourself.
Know the merchant
Identity thieves set up websites with very similar addresses and layouts to legitimate vendors. This is why you should never click on links in spam email as you could unwittingly provide your information to criminals.
Follow your instincts
Most of us comparison shop and conduct research when we’re getting ready to make a purchase. We’ll visit several sites and compare prices to see who offers the best deal. If one site has the item for substantially less than the others do, follow your instincts and ask yourself why. This is especially true for online auction sites. Let the buyer beware!
When used in conjunction with smart and careful online buying habits, an identity monitoring service can drastically reduce your chances of being an identity theft victim.