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BizReport : Internet Marketing 101 : August 04, 2021

Credit Card Security: How to Avoid Identity Theft Online?

With the strong dependence on cellphones, laptops, and online profiles, how does an individual continue to safeguard their information online?

by BizReport

Most of us probably have substantial amounts of information stored online. Whether you remember doing it or not, your online profile started with every email account, social media profile, and online purchase. In fact, with merely your cell phone, most people have enough information stored to harvest and sell your identity. But with the strong dependence on cellphones, laptops, and online profiles, how does an individual continue to safeguard their information online?

What is Identity Theft?
If your information is ever used in any scam, crime, or deception, you've probably been a victim of identity theft. This information can include personal details like your name, address, and phone number; financial information like bank accounts, credit cards, online purchases, subscriptions; or even your health information to secure prescriptions or medical services.

Protecting your information is always easier than trying to recover from a breach in data. Depending on the theft, recovering your information can be quick and painless, like canceling credit cards, or devastating and complicated, in circumstances where your data is volunteered at a crime. Thankfully, protecting your personal information isn't difficult if you take the proper steps to safeguard the information.

Always watch your online purchases
As the development of online shopping changes from weeks to hours for delivery, more individuals are relying on virtual shopping platforms to get what they need. From groceries, books, event tickets, trips, and more - online shopping has never been easier. To stay safe while shopping online, keep the following in mind:

Consistently Monitor Your Information
One of the best ways to stay on top of your personal information is through a background check. Reputable websites online are able to compile all of your personal information into a report, making errors easy to find. To ensure that your data isn't being used online, take a close look at the credit report section of your report. Notice any updated addresses, utilities, or accounts and report them right away. Stay on top of these details with consistent monitoring to flag anything new immediately.

Stick with reliable companies
It can be challenging to stick with name-brand companies, mainly when the item you want is hard to find. Try to find a well-known company to find the latest gear and groceries, even if it means paying a few dollars extra. While several lesser-known brands are likely legitimate, there's always the chance your information isn't safe and secure.

Data encryption and SSL certificates aren't always cheap to purchase--the more popular the online website, the lower the chance your information will be stolen or sold.

Use a prepaid card whenever possible
Prepaid cards function almost the same as traditional cards, with popular payment giants like Visa and Mastercard offering gift cards. To help curb your spending and keep your information safe, stick with prepaid credit cards when making online purchases. Although criminals can still pull the remaining balance on the card, it's not going to impact your identity or credit long-term.

Never Send Credit Card Details Through Email
Often, email servers are not encrypted at a level required for credit card security. It's also possible that other individuals at the requesting company can access company emails, making your information shareable with a few clicks of a button. If you're trying to purchase through a private vendor you trust, call them directly with the card information.

Check Your Monthly Statements Carefully
Whether you never use your card or charge it all the time, it's essential to review your monthly charges when the bill comes in carefully. You'll want to pay attention to any transaction you don't recall making, subscription services, or purchases made in another state (or country).

In the event you notice any transactions you didn't make, contact the company immediately to dispute the transaction. Many credit card companies are willing to reverse the charges while they investigate temporarily. Once confirmed the charges were fraudulent, the company will reverse them permanently. If you notice multiple transactions you didn't make, you must cancel the card immediately.

Limit Purchases Through Social Media
While many companies are honest and reliable, ads on popular social media networks leave many users without cash and product. That's because virtually anyone can create an online page through these networks. Unfortunately, that also means that individuals hoping to get contact information from you (like name, email address, phone number, or credit card information) can quickly create an ad to do precisely that.

If you happen to find a product you're interested in purchasing online, search for the company on Google. Buy directly through the company's page, preferably using PayPal. Always spend time reviewing the company through third-party websites like the Better Business Bureau or Google Reviews before purchasing.

Stop Giving Out Your Information
Whether you're entering contests for a free cruise or you love commenting on social media posts, sharing your information willingly is the easiest way to become a victim of identity theft. Try to limit the data you communicate to only reputable sources. If you see a post from a popular company promising a free giveaway, visit the company website for more information.

Most online companies bringing promotions or free products will have details posted and shared on their website, not social media. If you see a post requiring your name and email address to win a free trailer or vehicle, skip commenting and move on. Chances are, there's nothing to be won with these posts.

Change your passwords regularly
Your online security starts with the passwords you use. Staying on top of your passwords can be a hassle, but they're necessary to ensure your information and accounts remain safe. Always opt for a new password every three months. Select a difficult password that contains both uppercase, lowercase, and symbols. Always choose a different password for each account online.

If you don't want a different password for every account, consider having a different password for financial information than your social media and email accounts. Never share these passwords with anyone (including partners or family) to keep your accounts secure.


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