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Staying Safe Online

While the internet has opened up a huge amount of information and opportunities, being online is not without risks. If you shop or manage your finances online, follow these tips from Luma and stay safe.

1. Secure Your Network

If you use a wireless network, it’s important to secure it. Hackers can access anything you enter online— including your credit card number— over an unsecured network in no time at all. The documentation for your wireless router will tell you how to lock your router and encrypt your information.

2. Keep Sensitive Information Off Non-Secure Websites

There are lots of useful web applications on sites like Facebook and Google but you should avoid storing any sensitive data, like your credit card number, on non-secure websites. Online calendars, to-do lists and organisers can be a great help but things like your account numbers and passwords should never be kept there.

3. Use Different Passwords

With so many passwords to remember, it’s tempting to re-use the same one. However, use a different password for each online account. That way, if someone discovers one of your passwords, they won’t be able to access any of your other accounts.

4. Ask Smart Security Questions

When formulating your security questions, make sure you use questions that don’t have answers available on public record. You should choose questions like, “What was the name of your first pet?” rather than “What city were you born in?”, as the answer is less likely to be easy to find online.

5. Create Banking Alerts

Many credit card providers now offer to send you email and SMS alerts when you’re close to your credit limit or when transactions are charged over a certain amount. These alerts can also help you identify fraudulent activity on your credit card.

6. Look for the Lock

To stay safe and make sure your information doesn’t get intercepted when you’re shopping online or managing your finances, stick to trusted, well-known online retailers or smaller sites that use well known and secure payment processors. You can tell that an area on a site’s secure when the internet address starts with https:// and when you see a padlock icon in the corner of your browser. Set your security settings high on your computer so it alerts you when you move from secure to insecure areas. Only enter sensitive information like your credit card number on sites you trust.

7. Keep Private Information off Public Computers

When you use a computer away from home, such as in a library or coffee shop, make sure not to save private information onto the public computer. It’s also important to make sure you log out completely from all your accounts and never choose ‘save login information’ on these computers.

8. Don’t Get Caught by Phishing

Phishing is what it’s called when identity thieves pretend to be a financial (or other) institution you know and trust. They may send you an email or set up a website that looks very similar to brands you know. These scams work because you believe you’re signing into your usual bank or credit card account site and provide personal information.

When you log into your accounts, always make sure you’re not being asked for any information you wouldn’t usually be required to provide to log in. Also, check that the URL of the site contains the name you expect, without additions (other than a phrase such as ‘log on’ or log in’). Never send personal information, like your credit card number, via email.

9. Slow Down the Spam

Be wary of ‘spam’ or junk email. These messages are often from phishers, but they can also contain viruses that may be installed on your computer and share your information. Always install spam-filtering software (or ask your email provider whether it can add a spam-filter to your account). This can help to keep your data safe and will reduce the amount of junk mail you have to wade through.

10. Use Your Credit Card to Shop Online

Because you’re not out of pocket when using your credit card (unlike debit cards), making online purchases with your credit card protects your cash in the event of fraudulent activity.