It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 – Top tips for online safety in shopping, social, dating, and banking

Oct 29, 2012 8:00am

Guest blogger Cassie Anderson is marketing manager for online identity service miiCard

There are lots of great safety tips being shared for National Cyber Security Awareness Month.


In addition to supporting this ­National Cyber Security Alliance campaign and showing our commitment to cybersecurity through our involvement with the Champions program, we are using this month to remind our members how to keep safe in their different online activities from shopping, social and dating to banking.


Here are the top three tips to keep in mind for each of these popular activities:


Shopping OnlineWith the holidays coming, safe shopping online should be top of mind. With auction and listing sites like eBay, Craigslist and Auto Trader becoming more popular for holiday shopping, we thought we’d focus on some specific tips for keeping safe buying on these sites:

1.    Reputation – Only buy from reputable sellers, taking their profile, rating, feedback and transaction history into consideration. Make sure you have some additional contact details for them too like a phone number or email address rather than just relying on the site you are shopping on as a contact point.

2.    Secure transactions Always ensure the payment site you are using for a transaction is authentic and secure before entering any of your details. The easiest way is to check for the green ‘https’ secure certificate in the top corner of your browser.

3.    Payment protection – Never transfer money directly into the seller’s bank account. Use a secure site like PayPal or pay by credit card in case something goes wrong and make sure you understand what payment protection is in place before you complete the transaction.


Social NetworkingAs we do more and more online, using lots of different sites and services, it can be easy to fall into bad habits like using the same password across multiple accounts and sharing too many personal details insecurely.


Here are some top reminders:

1.    Make passwords long and strong and unique: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.

2.    Guard your details - Don’t give away too much personal information. Details like your address, date of birth and hometown are often used by fraudsters to commit identity theft and fraud, so think twice before you share.

3.    Know what you are signing up to - Read the Terms and Conditions, privacy and security policies for the sites you sign up to and understand how and where your information will be used. It’s also a good idea to regularly revisit and lock down your privacy and security settings on your accounts.

4.    Secure your accounts - Take advantage of extra security measures like adding additional email addresses and your phone number to protect your accounts to help recover them if you lose access. Use 2-step verification where available.

Online DatingInternet dating is a great way to meet new people and current statistics show 1 in 5 relationships start online. Unfortunately, dating sites are a popular place for fraudsters looking to trick people into handing over money. Here’s what to look out for:

1.    Genuine photos – People generally post photos of themselves in normal surroundings. Model or glamour shots, risqué and suggestive photos can suggest a profile is not real.

2.    Complete profiles – Make sure profiles are complete and sound realistic. Incomplete profiles, poor spelling and a description of a person who seems too good to be true should be warning signs.

3.    Asking for money – If someone you are connecting with on a dating site starts asking you for money, please be very cautious. This is the main cause of dating site fraud. Genuine daters who are looking for romance and companionship are most unlikely to ask someone they have just met for money.

Financial AccountsProtection for online banking has to be extra strong. Banks employ leading cybersecurity experts to ensure the strongest and most up to date security features are built into online banking to protect their customers.

At miiCard we also take a bank-level security approach to protecting our members’ identities online and we recommend:

1.    Banking passwords – Make them complex and different from the password combinations you use on other sites. Never share your banking passwords with another person.

2.    Use additional protection measures – Look for and use 2-step verification using your mobile phone or a security token device and setting a memorable security image. Answer those security questions like ‘What’s your mother’s maiden name’ not with the real answer but something only you would know.

3.    Extra security software – Many online banking sites have additional security software that works on top of your regular anti-virus protection to ensure top security. The couple of minutes it takes to download this extra level of protection makes it worthwhile for additional peace of mind.