These are some of the best ways to help reduce risk when shopping online
But on the downside there are plenty of cyber criminals out there- doing everything from stealing your personal information to making unauthorized transactions from your bank accounts.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 17 million Americans experienced identity theft in 2014, a number that's only going to get larger as a growing number of people make the internet their No. 1 shopping destination. Fortunately, there are a number of ways consumers can take to protect themselves from being taken advantage of online.
The best defense is using a strong, unique password for every one of your online accounts When you use the same password for several websites, your entire online security is as vulnerable as the weakest site you log in to. That's why it's important to limit your exposure by selecting a different password every time you sign up for a new service. Then, write these passwords down on a piece of paper stored safely inside your home. This ensures that you'll remember all of your information - without requiring you to keep it in an online file that's susceptible to hackers.
It's also important to make each password as difficult as possible for someone to guess. Use long, complex strings of letters, numbers, and special characters.
Another way to limit your risk is by working with a trusted payments processor. PayPal uses the latest antifraud technologies, from checkout to delivery, to help protect your transaction every step of the way.
There's also PayPal's Purchase Protection feature, which can give customers a full reimbursement any time an eligible purchase is made and when the item purchased turns out to be damaged, not received at all, or different from how it was described by the seller.
Of course, a secure payments processor can only do so much all by itself. Fraudsters are constantly on the lookout for software bugs that will allow them to hack into your computer or mobile device and install a virus. Reduce your risk by regularly updating your operating system and popular applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, and Google Chrome. There are a number of ways to update your system software and finding the right antivirus program for further protection.
Don't forget the basics
Lastly, even if your computer is secure, there's nothing stopping a criminal from stealing your wallet, eavesdropping on your phone conversation with a credit-card representative, or picking a letter from your bank out of your trash.
A good way to help guard against offline theft is by shredding important papers, leaving seldom-used credit cards and identification documents at home, and keeping an eye on who's around when you divulge sensitive information.
While cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to commit identity theft crimes, taking these steps will go a long way toward protecting your information and ensuring a happy, secure holiday shopping season.
This post is sponsored by PayPal.
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