The holiday season is upon us, and like millions of people around the world, you’re probably doing a lot of your shopping online. While this is a great alternative to elbowing your way through crowded malls, there are measures you should take to protect your finances online.
American’s VP of Information Technology, Mike Pfeiffer, gives some helpful tips to keep your credit card and personal information safe.
- Look for the padlock – when you’re in the checkout process, make sure that the site is using secure software. There should be an icon in front of the URL. If you click it and it’s green, it’s a secure link. If it’s yellow or red, the technology might be outdated or unreliable.
- Only shop on trusted sites –this may seem like an obvious rule, but many people get a false sense of safety when exploring online stores. Just because you are shopping in the comfort of your own home, doesn’t mean you should let your guard down.
- Shop with credit cards rather than debit cards—the beauty of shopping with a credit card is that if you detect fraud on your account, you can report it before paying the charges. Watch your accounts closely; you usually only have 60 days to report fraudulent charges. Also, many credit card companies do a good job of proactively looking for fraudulent activity on your card and will often notify you if there is activity outside your usual spending habits. The issue with using a debit card online is that if there are fraudulent charges made, you are out the money until your bank decides to refund it. Under the EFTA, a bank has 10 business days to investigate the matter, where they can refund that money if proven stolen.
- Beware of “phishing” attacks—Watch out for emails or alerts claiming to be your bank, social media or other accounts asking for your login credentials or personal information. They often use fear-based messages, related to current events, to get you to comply. When in doubt, contact the organization directly.
- Don’t use the same password for multiple sites — Although having one password may be easy to remember, it puts you at risk for hackers to harvest your information from several accounts. For example, if someone gets a hold of your Facebook password, they could gain access to your email, bank account and more. It is especially important that your main personal email used for password reset requests uses a unique and secure password.
- Examine links before clicking on them— Just because the text in an email message says one thing, doesn’t mean it’s the safe link. To investigate, hover over the link, and the real destination will appear in the status bar. Also, imposter sites can disguise themselves as trustworthy sites. For instance, a site may pop up called amozan.com rather than the real amazon.com. Switching the letters around in a URL is a sneaky way to trick people into handing over their credit card information.
At American, we’ve invested in the latest technology to keep your information safe. All 1,900 of our customers’ eCommerce sites are encrypted throughout the entire shopping process. This means that information entered into our system converts into unreadable data to anyone who might try to access it without permission. We also authorize the card in use before placing an order, keeping you even safer from fraudulent charges. We’re proud to provide an enjoyable, secure shopping experience and encourage everyone to go the extra step to protect yourself this holiday season!