Surfing Safely

While we at Southport Magazine prefer shopping locally, we understand that some folks shop online and particularly do so during the holidays. Though there are advantages to e-commerce, it’s wise to take steps to protect your identity from hackers and thieves. Even if you do all of your shopping locally, the simple act of paying bills via the internet can put you at risk. Here are a few tips for keeping safe:

• Always review your order confirmations and credit-card statements in a timely manner. Staying abreast of your statements can help you catch errors and unusual charges.

• Do not e-mail your credit-card information to individuals privately offering items for sale.

• Never make online financial transactions via websites or institutions with which you are not familiar. Many thieves set up fake sites to steal information from unsuspecting victims.

• Be especially skeptical of unsolicited e-mails—even those that appear to be from institutions you trust—asking you to follow particular links, respond with identifying information, or change passwords. Another common phishing practice is to set up websites that pose as the sites of trusted institutions in order to gather legitimate passwords from unsuspecting users.

• Be sure to log off completely from any website following an online transaction. Don’t just close your browser: Find the link that logs you off.

• Make sure that websites where you’re shopping are secured. Look for a secured symbol at the bottom of your browser (the symbol is most often displayed as a small padlock).

• Only provide your account information when the browser indicates an encrypted (scrambled) connection. An encrypted connection is normally indicated by an “https://” in your browser’s address bar in front of the address of the page you are viewing.

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