💻 📬 📦 Online Shopping – Stay Safe & Keep It Simple 💻 📬 📦

 

Now that we are in the midst of the Holiday Shopping Season, we are trying to find ways to complete our gift lists while avoiding the hassle of crowded shopping centers, parking lots and all of the other external stressors that subtract from the joys of gift giving. Many people have chosen to bypass these hassles all together by doing all of their shopping online.

Golden think safety key on keyboard
Golden think safety key on keyboard

While shopping online is convenient in so many ways, it also has it’s own set of precautions that we need to consider. Anything device connected to the Internet, including smartphones and tablets need to be protected – especially during heavy use periods, like the holidays. Scammers and cyber criminals can easily target shoppers.

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Being a safe and secure shopper starts with careful safeguards. Think about the consequences of your actions online before you act and enjoy the conveniences of technology with peace of mind while you shop online. 

Here are some great tips to help you find the ease of internet shopping to be a safe experience as well:

  • Use Familiar Websites rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray. If you know the site, chances are it’s less likely to be a rip off. We all know Amazon.com and that it carries everything under the sun; likewise, just about every major retail outlet has an online store, from Target to Best Buy.
  • Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example)—those are the oldest tricks in the book. Yes, the sales on these sites might look enticing, but that’s how they trick you into giving up your info!
  • Look for the Lock and NEVER buy anything that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar. It depends on your browser.
  • Conduct research when using a new website for purchases, read reviews and see if other consumers have had a positive or negative experience with the site.
  • Personal information is like money so value it and protect it! When making a purchase online, be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete the transaction. Make sure you think it is necessary for the vendor to request that information. Remember, you only need to fill out required fields at checkout.
  • Be on alert for emails that might get us to act quickly and click through links and open attachments. Be wary of emails about problems with your credit cards or an account or the status of online order. Criminals know we are price sensitive when shopping online. Exercise caution when seeing and ad offer where the discount is way below normal.
  • Don’t Tell All! No online shopping store needs your social security number or your birthday to do business. However, if crooks get them, combined with your credit card number for purchases, they can do a lot of damage. The more they know, the easier it is to steal your identity. When possible, default to giving up the least amount of information.
  • Use safe payment options! Credit cards are generally the safest option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered. 
  • Read return and other polices so you know what to expect if the purchase doesn’t go as planned.
  • Limit the type of business you conduct over open public Wi-Fi connections, including logging on to key accounts, such as email and banking. Adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your phone.
  • Keep a clean machine by keeping all web-connected devices ‒ including PCs, smartphones and tablets ‒ free from malware and infections by running only the most current versions of software and apps.
  • Reinforce your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.
  • Make your password tough! A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “ILove2MyNewCar!”)
  • Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cyber-criminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords. 
  • Check your statements regularly and don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online frequently during the holiday season and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges, even originating from sites like PayPal. (After all, there’s more than one way to get to your money.) If you do see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only once you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems, however; after that, you might be liable for the charges anyway.

packagesxmas.jpgNow that you know the safest ways to shop, you’re only concern should be what is the best gifts to give your friends and family! If your loved ones are as concerned about internet security as you are, we recommend an online security tool.

Click here to see the top 10 Antivirus Software Programs of 2016!

Click here to see the top Identity Theft Protection Services of 2016!

Have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season!

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Keep Your Family Safe From Online Predators – Internet Safety Tips for Parents, Kids & Teens

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Internet Safety for Parents:

Children and teens use a wide array of online services, and each can have different safety concerns. There are some basic tips, however, that you can utilize for all types of internet use.

Make sure the computer your children have access to is in a communal area of your home.

Set limits with your kids as to which sites they may have access to and for how long.

Remember, technology is mobile now, so make sure to monitor cell phones, gaming devices, and laptops. Installing a parental control app may give you some additional peace of mind.

Spend time with your kids online. Let them show you what they like to do online.

Be aware of who is communicating with your kids online and set rules and boundaries for social networking, messaging, chatting, e-mailing, gaming, and webcam use.

Keep a continuous dialogue with your children about online safety.

There are many online tools available to help control control your childrens’ access to adult material and help protect them from Online predators. Although no option is going to guarantee that they’ll be safe from all of the risks on the Internet, it may help reduce their risk. Do your research and find your best options.

Many Internet service providers provide parental control options to block certain items and content from coming onto a computer. You can also get software that helps block access to certain sites based on a “bad site” list that your ISP creates. There are filtering programs can block sites from coming in and restrict personal information from being sent online. Other programs can monitor and track online activity.

Make sure your kids create a screen name that you know to protect their real identity.

There can be warning signs if a child being or becoming a target of an online predator. These may include: spending more than the usual amount of time online, especially at night, phone calls from people you don’t know, or unsolicited gifts arriving in the mail. Changes in your child’s behavior: If they suddenly turn off the computer when you walk into the room. Be sure to question why and monitor their computer time more often and more closely. Withdrawal from daily activities and family life can also be a warning sign.

Be sure to contact your police department and/or the FBI if your child has received pornography or has been the target of an online sex offender.

Internet Safety Tips for Kids and Teens

Never post your personal information, such as a cell phone number, home number, home address, or your location on any social networking site or through mobile apps like Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram.

Never meet in person with anyone you first “met” on the internet. If someone asks to meet you, tell your parents or guardian right away. Some people may not be who they say they are.

Check with your parents before you post pictures of yourself or others online. Do not post inappropriate pictures of anyone.

Never respond to mean or rude texts, messages, and e-mails. Delete any unwanted messages. You may need to delete friends who continuously bother you or post things that are not appropriate.

NEVER share your password with anyone, including your best friend. The only people who should know your password are your parents or guardian.

Do not download or install software or anything on your computer or cell phone before checking with your parents or guardian.

Use the privacy settings of social networking sites.

If anything makes you feel uncomfortable online, while gaming or when using your cell phone, talk with your parents or guardian right away.