Online transactions are a great way for thieves to get your personal information. Take the following precautions to protect yourself from online thieves:
- Don't provide personal information on any Web site unless you are certain that it is a secure site. When shopping online and entering credit card information, always make sure that the Web site begins with https:// and includes a locked padlock icon.
- When entering personal information online, even on well-known Web sites, watch for signs that you've been redirected to a "cloned" replica site where your data can be captured without your knowledge. Such signs include odd error messages, unexpected page design or content, or other strange site behavior.
- Never open spam and other e-mail from unknown sources — it may contain viruses or other programs that make your computer vulnerable to intrusion.
- If you receive an email from a financial institution — even your own bank — never provide personal or account data. It's always best to contact your bank directly and provide information in person or over the phone.
- Install and activate a firewall on your home computer to keep hackers out — especially if you connect to the Internet by DSL or cable modem. Install virus protection and other security software, and keep it updated.
- Before disposing of a computer or hard drive, remove personal information data using a strong "wipe" utility program. Do not rely on the "delete" function to remove files containing sensitive information.
- Always store personal files and data securely in your home.