Online transactions are definitely a godsend, making everything a whole lot easier. Today, sending money is as easy as tapping away on your mobile device, with the transaction completed in a matter of minutes.
What this convenience brings, however, is a huge possibility of bigger risks.
Did you know that online fraud may reach up to $4.5B in value by 2018?
You definitely wouldn’t want to contribute to those numbers. This is why it has become even more important to protect yourself when it comes to transactions done online.
Here are 10 tips on how you can keep yourself protected while still enjoying the perks that come with online transactions.
Make your passwords secure
A lot of people get irritated when creating passwords, especially when they come across those prompts that tell them to add symbols and other characters to their passwords.
These requirements definitely make the entire password-creation process more complicated, and the passwords also become harder to memorize.
Despite the added inconvenience however, complicated passwords are more secure. They are harder to crack, making it even more difficult for hackers and identity thieves to gain access into any of your online banking accounts, email accounts, and other places where you usually login.
So the next time you become agitated with these password requirements, just remember that it’s better to spend time on the right process now rather than find yourself in deep regret when someone manages to hack into your accounts easily.
Always check for credibility
Never transact with anyone online unless you are 100% sure of the other person’s credibility. Sadly, a huge percentage of people who fall victim to online fraud become part of the statistic simply because they placed their trust in the wrong people.
Although identity thieves and online scammers are often very convincing, looking for possible red flags in every transaction can help you become aware of what the real score is, and whether you’re dealing with someone legitimate or not.
Look for the usual branding if it’s a huge financial business you’re dealing with. Find the authorizations and certifications that give them the right to do what they claim to be doing.
If it isn’t really a big company, like, let’s say, PayPal or Western Union, get recommendations from friends who have used the service before.
And yes, even huge companies can be used for fraud. Have you heard about the numerous PayPal incidents where they received authentic-looking messages from PayPal that later on turned out to be fraudulent?
Always check the URLs of the pages you are being led to. And when in doubt, call them instead of blindly responding to every call to action they send you.
Stop clicking on random links
As mentioned earlier, there have been a few instances where emails are received bearing authentic-looking branding. They would often contain links, which leads you to pages where they either ask for valuable information, or causes you to download malware that could steal information right from your computer.
Before clicking on anything, verify its legitimacy first. Even if the message comes from a familiar name or a good friend, always think twice. It’s possible that your friends may have been victims as well and have unknowingly passed the link on to everybody else.
Use your own private computer
If you are planning to make any transactions online, always use your own computers or gadgets, never a public one. You do not know what’s lurking within those computers.
Make one wrong move of signing into a computer that already has some malware, and you could lose your money in seconds, as they could take your login details and other important information without you noticing what’s happening.
Always use an updated anti-virus software
Although there are tons of free anti-virus software out there, if you have the capacity to invest on a good one, then might as well do it. This investment would be worth it especially if you do almost every single financial transaction online, like paying your bills or sending your family money.
Anti-virus software can easily warn you if you’re being redirected to a suspicious website, or are unconsciously downloading any malicious software. And because these software are regularly updated to protect you from every new threat that comes out, you can make sure that no matter how new the malware or virus could be, every transaction stays secure.
Sure, a lot of banking and financial institutions have a default setting of logging you out automatically after noticing a few minutes of inactivity. These precious few minutes however, are more than enough for anyone to take your seat and start moving money from one place to another.
Even your social media and email accounts could fall under the same threat. Sure, you may not be using them for your financial transactions. But the moment you forget to logout, somebody else may take over and start scouring your inboxes for information that they can use to scam somebody else. They could even use your own profile to request for money from people you know.
Check the URL and domain every time
When being redirected to any financial website, always check the URL. Does it say https:// instead of http://? Are you sure that this is the official website of the actual financial institution and not just an amazing copy meant to cheat you out of your passwords?
When receiving emails from any of your banks, always check the domain as well. This can be very tricky, as any slight difference in the domain name could mean that the email you’re receiving is coming from somebody else.
Always familiarize yourself with the official URL and domain that your banks use so that you can be certain where you process your transactions. The moment you find anything amiss, try calling them directly to ask them if they changed anything on their website to make sure.
Protecting yourself in doing online transactions takes diligence and focus, but it definitely can be done. Remember that as long as you’re enjoying the convenience of online transactions, you have to keep your eyes peeled and your instincts as strong as ever. This way, you can make the most out of the convenience without exposing yourself too much to the risks.