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What can you do to stay safer online?

-You love to go online and shop, but recently, you've been shut out of your account. The company called and said it blocked your purchases because you triggered an alert. Several days later, you were stopped by the police on your way into your house, accused of stealing someone else's credit-card information.

You know you didn't do any such thing, but somehow, the other person's credit-card information made its way into your account. It could be something as easy as a glitch or using a public computer that led to this mix-up, but now you're in trouble with the law.

This is not an uncommon event, and it's becoming more common with the influence of online shopping. If you want to stay safe online and prevent your information from being used against your wishes, you need to value and protect your personal information. How do you do that? Here are two helpful tips:

Use safe payment options

Instead of using a direct bank account number, consider using your credit card or PayPal. These services have anti-theft protocols that help you get your money back if your information is stolen. Additionally, if you use a credit card or PayPal without saving it online, you'll know if someone else has left his or her information on a computer and be able to clear it before you input your own.

Clear cookies after every use

If you don't want to worry about someone seeing your information on a public computer, clear your browser cookies. Cookies are what save your information, so always deny access to saving your credit-card information and wipe the cookies before you leave the computer.

Keeping yourself safe is a good start to recognizing when you are seeing someone else's information or at risk of using it. Knowing the risks can help you keep your own information private and prevent you from using someone else's accidentally.

Source: National Cyber Security Alliance, "Online Safety Basics: Online Shopping," accessed April 05, 2018

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