4 tips for secure online shopping

While some have already begun their holiday shopping, others will kick off the season on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Online shopping has become the norm and so has identity theft so here are a few tips to improve your online security:

Reset your online shopping passwords on all previous accounts and be sure to use a different password for each account. Create “strong” passwords that are at least 8 characters long and uses a mix of numbers, symbols and upper and lower case letters. Find out more about creating strong passwords.

Avoid clicking on online ads or links – while they may take you to the site you desire they may also send you to a cloned site and expose you to hackers. Instead go to the website directly.

Before entering your payment details on a website form, make sure the site is secure. The website address should start with https:// - the “s” signifies the website is using a secure protocol. Also look for the padlock symbol on your browser bar. Here is more information on secure websites.

Use a third-party payment solution like PayPal if you have concerns about security of a site. Or, use a prepaid debit card that will keep hackers from getting your primary credit or debit card info. Please note that some prepaid cards may charge a fee for each transaction.

By taking these simple steps you can minimize the chance that you'll be spending the New Year trying to regain your identity or recouping fraudulent credit card charges.