Our lives are fast paced, and with the school year quickly approaching online shopping offers many families a great way to get prepared without having to alter their busy schedules. Unfortunately online shopping can open up a big risk: identity theft. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to minimize this risk, and coverage available in case of a successful attempt on your identity.

  • Only shop on sites with a secure connection. Look for https:// at the beginning of the address.
  • Read a site’s privacy policy to determine how the personal information you’ve provided will be used. Companies that sell your information to third parties open you up to identity theft and phone scams.
  • Only use one credit card for online purchases. This makes it easier to track spending and identify fraudulent purchases
  • Never click links in unsolicited e-mails. Always log directly onto a company’s official website for deals, do not use the links in an e-mail. ID thieves can corrupt a link and track your keystrokes to gain access to information.
  • Do not send personal information in an e-mail or instant message. It might not be a matter of national security, but we’ve all seen the news stories about how insecure e-mails are.
  • Do not click links in an e-mail unless you know the sender and verify they have sent you an attachment. A new scam technique is a link that, once clicked, sends the virus to your address book. Unsuspecting victims recognize the e-mail address sending the virus, click the link and the cycle continues.
  • Do not correspond with your financial institution or credit card company via e-mail. If your e-mail is hacked, you don’t want people to know where you do your banking.
  • Keep your web browser up to date, this keeps your security features up to date. Technology and criminals are evolving too rapidly to rely on outdated security features.
  • Install anti-virus software and a firewall. For when your co-worker/relative/friend clicks on a virus and forwards it to their address book; a good anti-virus system can stop that shady link before it lands in your inbox.
  • Choose strong passwords, and do not use the same password for more than one platform. If someone hacks your Facebook, for example, they should not then be able to enter every single password protected website you are on.
  • Some banks allow you to set a financial trigger for purchases. Anything over $700, for example, triggers a phone call or e-mail to the account holder to verify that the purchase is authentic.
  • Call your agent! Your homeowner’s policy can provide coverage for identity theft. This provides funds to reimburse you for fees and time spent regaining control of your personal information after an identity theft.