Safe online money transactions are paramount now that many Americans are spending most of their time at home. As a result, a lot more people are turning to online transactions to accomplish a lot of tasks. The technology has been available even before the pandemic started. But with the health crisis, more Americans gravitated towards online transactions more simply because they are at home.
According to findings of Pew Research, about 32% of Americans attended a virtual social event with either family or friends due to the pandemic. When it comes to food, about the same percentage are also getting food delivered from an online purchase. Even when working out, almost 18% of Americans participated in an online workout video.
This only goes to show how many people are slowly shifting towards greater online activity. With that move, a big portion of it includes your finances. This is why i is crucial to keep in mind tips for safe online money transactions. Not only will this help you secure your money but allow you to enjoy the convenience of online transactions.
If you notice an increase in your online activities, then you certainly need to step up your game. It is crucial that you find a way to protect yourself when making any type of online transaction. More than just online banking, you need to make sure you are safe when buying groceries or simply chatting away with family and friends. Here are a few of the things to keep in mind to do just that.
Log into a secure connection
When you begin to talk about safe online money transactions, your internet connection should be one of the priorities. You might start to think about anti-virus software and that will actually help you maintain a safer online environment. But the manner you connect to the internet is the first thing you do and often overlook the security of your connection.
If you are at home and using your own connection, then that is the safest you can get. Make sure that you have a password that only you and your family know about when accessing your line. The problem starts when you access sensitive personal information using outside or even public connections. You never know who has access to your device the moment you log in.
A good rule of thumb is to limit your use of public or free wifi access if you can. Only use connections you trust like the ones at home or in your office. If you need to access sites that have anything to do with personal banking or your savings, wait until you get home to do so. This can lower the chances of other people gaining access to your connection.
Check the SSL Certificate of the site
Safe online money transactions also include the security of the actual websites you log into. One of the first things to look at is the SSL security of the site. This is important especially if you are logging into financial websites or even using a payment gateway to process your purchases. It can be for online transactions for food and other items.
The quickest way to find out is to look at the URL of the website you are opening up. If it has an SSL certificate, it should start to read as “https”. If the URL of the website only begins with “http”, that is not a secured connection. Hackers could have an easier time gaining access to your connection and could easily get a hold of personal and sensitive information.
This can be anything from your complete name, address, and even social security number. If you logged into your online banking details, hackers could easily get a hold of your username and password. It is also possible that they get access to saved credit card details. Hackers can use these details to open other accounts or make purchases and have you pay for them.
Never open links from emails
Safe online money transactions also include being smart with the emails you are getting. Hackers can disguise a sender’s name and make it look like they are coming from an institution you know. It can be your bank, a supplier, the power or water company, or even from your school. The message would look legitimate and you may not think twice about opening and clicking on links.
Once you do, you could open a host of problems. The link could bring you to a log-in site that would ask for your username and password. If you believe that the email is coming from your bank, you would not hesitate to log into your account. Once you do that, hackers gain access to your accounts. It is also possible that taking action on a link could automatically download a file on your computer.
This file could be a big headache. It could stay dormant for a long time waiting for you to put in a lot of sensitive data until it activates and steals all your personal information. Or it can give hackers access to your computer whenever you are using it. They can quickly know your login details to several sites you often visit. This would lead to financial problems which could add on to an already difficult situation.
Check email sender
Safe online money transactions include checking the sender of emails you receive. It might be made to look like it comes from a legitimate source but a closer inspection would reveal otherwise. What you can do to check is quickly go to the email sender hover or click their name. Doing so should reveal the actual email address of the sender.
You might be surprised that the email address is totally different from the supposed sender. Legitimate senders would usually have the company name in their email addresses. It would be good to reach out to the company that sent you the email just to verify. Once you have them on the phone, you can ask as well what their official communication channels are to help you anticipate if you are receiving official correspondence from companies or not.
Never give out personal details over the phone
When you receive a call claiming that they represent either your bank or other legitimate company asking that you verify your details, never volunteer in giving out your information. What you can do is either confirm what they already have or be the one to call the company to do the verification. This way, you know that you are calling official lines and not just some person pretending to be someone they’re not.
You can ask the caller to give you whatever information they have and you can verify if they have the correct one or not. This way, you are not voluntarily giving out your personal information. You are able to keep your details safe. Also, if the caller is able to provide the right information, there is a good chance that they are legitimate calls from companies they represent.
Make it a habit to check your credit report
Safe online money transactions also include regularly checking your credit report. The FTC shared that there are ways to get free credit reports. You need to check your report and look for inconsistencies regardless of how small it is. In fact, look for the small discrepancies in your report. Some hackers will try to charge small amounts, in the beginning, to check if it will go through. Once it does, they begin to charge bigger expenses.
Your credit report will also list down open accounts. Take a look at this list and verify if you opened all these accounts. You can also look at the recent credit and loan applications as well in the inquiries section. This only stays on your report for 24 months that is why it is a good idea to check your credit report regularly. The goal is to make sure that you processed all the accounts open under your name as well as loan applications. If not, then you need to reach out to your lenders immediately.
Actively looking for ways to make safe online money transactions need to be a priority now that more people are transacting online. You need to make sure that the convenience of online transactions does not put your accounts in danger.