Money Matters: Online Shopping Tips

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November 14, 2012

We always encourage people to shop local merchants for the holidays, but some local merchants also sell merchandise on line.

For those of you who will be doing some of your holiday shopping online, The Kansas Credit Union Association has some tips to ensure you won't get ripped off while cyber shopping.

Here are those suggestions:

1. Use strong passwords. Avoid using common passwords like 1,2,3 or a,b,c, d. Use letters and numbers and more than six characters. A hacker can crack a simple password in 10 minutes. But an 8 digit password with upper and lower case can take 463 years to crack.

2. Shop on trusted networks. It's probably not safe to make an online purchase on a free, public wi-fi network at the local coffee shop. Shop using your own wireless network.

3. Make sure your security software is up to date. Check your anti-virus software, anti spyware software and firewalls to make sure you are using the latest version.

4. Secure your browser. Before entering personal information, ensure your browser is locked. The URL should start with h-t-t-p-s. The "s" stands for secure. Also, look for the lock icon in the upper right window of the browser and not on the page itself. On firefox, it will be at the bottom of the browser.

5. Avoid pop up screens during online shopping. Hackers can develop pop up screens to steal your information.

6. Use credit cards, not debit cards. A debit card does not offer the same protection as a credit card.

7. Be wary of scams. Never respond to an email or text message that seems fishy. Go directly to the merchants website rather than clicking on a link from an unsolicited email.

Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For a link to The Kansas Credit Union Association website, click on the link below.

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