In today’s digital landscape, almost everything can be sold and purchased online through various platforms, such as social media, websites, and eCommerce platforms. All you need to do is click the product you like, input your details, and make your payments. After that, you’ll receive your orders in a couple of days or weeks, depending on your location.
However, it’s crucial to take extra precautions when making online transactions. The internet may be the best thing ever invented – but it is far from being a safe space for everyone, especially now that cybersecurity concerns have increased.
These concerns include malicious threats and data breaches, which often result from mishandling sensitive personal information. When you’re not careful in managing your data, hackers can use it to penetrate your system and steal anything in sight.
However, even if there are millions of hackers trying to steal your data, that shouldn’t stop you from carrying out financial transactions online. You can still be safe from cyberattacks and threats as long as you know what to do best.
With that said, here are some of the most effective tips and advice that’ll help you secure your finances when making online transactions:
- Don’t Provide Too Much Information
First things first: never provide information you think is too personal and sensitive.
Be wary if a website requires you to submit information, such as credit or debit card details, account password for verification purposes, PIN codes, or other data. They’re likely trying to penetrate your account and retrieve any amount they can acquire.
Also, keep your eyes open for merchants asking for your Social Security number (SSN). It is another one of their tactics you should be cautious of. Hackers may use it to get into your credit card and run up tons of debt charges without your knowledge.
So, when should you only provide your SSN? You should only provide it when making transactions, online or physical, to the Social Security Administration (SSA), Medicare, or Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Furthermore, if you need to provide your SSN, you’ll most probably need your SSN prefix to make the process easier on both sides. It’s a three-digit number that identifies which state the SSN is issued. You may check this list of SSN prefixes to find yours.
- Beware Of Phishing Emails
Sending malicious and fake emails or phishing is one of the most common tactics used by hackers to retrieve your personal information and get into your bank account. They’ll create an account convincingly similar to that of legitimate banks, copying their logo, email template, content format, etc.
Then, they’ll send it out to their potential victims, asking for personal details that would grant them access to their victims’ accounts. These may include but are not limited to account numbers, PIN codes, and passwords. Also, they may send an email saying the account has been locked and needs to reset immediately to make it more convincing.
What you can do best is call your banking institution about the email you received and have them verify it. Once they confirm the email as legitimate, that’s when you can input your personal information. Otherwise, you may delete it permanently from your inbox.
Furthermore, don’t click any links included in fake emails. These links are probably malicious sites that may corrupt and allow them to access your system.
- Make Transactions With Secure Websites
Online shopping has become increasingly popular these days. However, not every place on the internet is safe for shopping. With tons of merchants showing up on your social media accounts, it’s crucial to take extra precautions before placing your orders.
You may start with simple research about a specific website. Doing so can allow you to discover all the details you need, including involvement in potentially suspicious activities.
However, indications may not show up right away. So, here are steps for evaluating whether a website is reliable and legitimate or not:
- Look For SSL Certificates – Check if the website’s URL begins with ‘HTTPS.’ It indicates that any data that flows onto the website will be secured.
- Look For Certificate Of Authentication – Before checking out your orders, see if the page has safety accreditations from various organizations, such as Norton, McAfee, PayPal, etc. Then, click on them to see if they’re real.
- Check Some Reviews – Search the website for reviews, and if it’s not enough, look for third-party websites. But be wary of some fake reviews. So, check if they follow the same grammar, word choice, phrases, and writing styles. If they do, they’re most likely to be fake.
Make these three easy steps your usual routine when planning to do online shopping to prevent becoming a victim of financial fraud.
- Create Strong Passwords
Most people want to create passwords they can remember easily, such as their birthdays, phone numbers, numerical patterns, etc. However, this approach would also allow hackers to figure them out effortlessly. That’s why creating strong passwords is highly advisable across all your accounts.
Here are some tips for creating a strong password:
- Combine codes and phrases. For example, 2B/not2B_ThatsThe?
- Use common elements across different passwords but make it customized to a specific website. For example, THS_4_AMZN! (for an Amazon account), THS_4_FCBK! (for a Facebook account), etc.
- Use special symbols to make emoticons. For example, 1canCU:DCRE8tingPSSWRD
Furthermore, you may try combining numbers and symbols until you produce a somewhat illogical password. And because they make no sense at all, write them down in your notebook so you may always have something to refer to when you forget them.
- Enable Your Account’s Multifactor Authentication
Multifactor authentication is one of the most effective techniques to prevent hackers from accessing your website, even if they know your passwords through your accounts.
When enabling multifactor authentication, you’ll be asked to set up different ‘factors.’ These will confirm your identity when trying to log in to your account, especially on various devices. Here are the most common factors of authentication you may use:
- A PIN code sent via SMS message
- A USB key
- A fingerprint, iris scanner, or facial recognition
Also, multifactor authentication only works when logging in using new devices and after changing passwords. After that, you’ll never have to sign in using other factors. You only need your primary password, and you’re good to go.
You can purchase almost everything you need online through different platforms, such as social media and eCommerce sites. However, financial transactions done online are full of risks.
It’d be best to follow the tips and advice discussed above. Don’t provide sensitive data, don’t engage with fake and malicious emails, ensure that the website is secure, use strong passwords, and activate your multifactor authentication.
With these tips, you’ll be able to protect yourself from hackers waiting for you to spill your details and prey on your account.