January 30, 2012

How to Protect Your Identity When Shopping Online

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    One of the biggest concerns for people in the modern world is protecting their identity. Simply speaking, identity theft if one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States and it is something that is especially scary on the internet. For people who want to protect themselves, it pays to use some preventative methods. But how does one get that done? That is the ultimate question that so many people are asking today. Protecting your identity online is all about choosing the right sites to shop at and visit and it's about being very careful who you provide information to. A little bit of common sense goes a long way.


    Shopping only at trusted sites

    One of the best things that you can do to protect your identity online is to only shop at those sites that are legitimate. Identity theft is a very real danger and it can happen to you if you are not careful. If you want to avoid online fraud, then only shop at a site after doing some research on its reputation. There are enough legitimate sites out there that you don't have to go for an untested site. If something looks too good to be true, then it probably is. If the prices at a place look suspicious and the site looks like it was thrown together by amateurs, then you might want to look to another site.


    Look for site encryption

    Even if you are shopping or giving information to a site that has good intentions, you aren't completely out of the woods. A major problem with online fraud is when hackers break into a site and steal your information from that source. Because this happens so often, you need to only provide information to a site when you see the encryption symbol on that site. If you look at the bottom of the page, you will see the little symbols that show the site's encryption status. Don't trust a site unless you see these things. Otherwise, you will end up in a bad state of affairs at the end of the day.


    Shop using an online wallet

    When it comes to shopping online, you might consider using an online wallet like Paypal rather than giving your individual information to each site. With Paypal, you know that your information is only sitting in one place and you know that the information is protected by the best possible software. This way, you can pay securely without having to give out personal information and credit card information to each random site. This is a quick, easy way to make sure that you are protected online. There are more sites in addition to Paypal, so you can do some research and choose the one that suits your needs the best.


    Following the directions from your security software

    Most people have some sort of security software installed on their computer. Even if you don't have that software on your machine, it is likely that your internet browser will have some kind of special protection on it. When you are about to go to a site that is not trusted, the browser or program will provide you with a warning. Don't just ignore these warnings and tell them to go away. You should take each warning seriously and not visit sites when your browser tells you that the site is untrusted. Using a little bit of common sense in this way will give you an opportunity to protect your identity from thieves.


    Richard Towler is a consumer finance advocate for Secured Credit Cards 4U, a US credit card comparison website for consumers looking to rebuild credit.

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