Friday, October 29, 2010National Cyber Security Awareness Month may be coming to an end, but online security is something to think about year-round. With the exciting holiday shopping season coming up, we wanted to share some tips for keeping your buying and selling experience online safe and secure.
- Beware of money-transfer and seller scams: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never wire money to a seller you haven’t reviewed very thoroughly, and stay alert for phishing attempts. Note that Google Checkout does NOT support payments through wire transfer and will never ask for your username or password via email. See our previous post on fake Checkout invoices for more details.
- Work with legitimate businesses: Before you make a purchase from an unfamiliar seller online, make sure to investigate them. For example, do a web search for reviews from other buyers with experience with the seller. Legitimate merchants should provide you with contact information that you can reference if you have any questions or problems with your transaction.
- Make sure your passwords are strong: Don't reuse passwords across multiple accounts, and remember to change them periodically, especially if you suspect your account may be at risk. Check out more tips on how to choose a smart password.
- Type web addresses into your browser's address bar: Never navigate to sensitive accounts by clicking a link or cutting and pasting the address. Instead, enter the address yourself, (e.g. type “www.bankofamerica.com”).
- Only send information over secure connections: Look for the https connection in the address bar (and the padlock icon in your address bar if you’re using Google Chrome or IE) when transmitting any sensitive information like credit card or bank numbers. When accessing financial accounts, check that the website has an Extended Validation Certificate — the URL or website name should show up as green in the URL bar, meaning the organization that operates the website has been validated.
- Avoid conducting financial transactions on public computers: Avoid logging into accounts that contain sensitive financial information (e.g. bank or credit card accounts or commerce websites) on public or shared computers. If you do access such information on a public or shared computer, remember to sign out completely and close your browser window after you're done.