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5 Mistakes You Could Be Making Online

Key Takeaways

  • Using the same password across multiple apps and websites is not the best way to keep your information safe.
  • Before putting your financial information into a new site, check for the padlock icon in the address bar.
  • Try not to shop online when you're using public Wi-Fi networks.

By Melissa Green | Citizens Bank Staff

For most young people who’ve grown up with the Internet, cybersecurity threats are nothing new. But are we making a conscious effort to minimize the danger? With the increased use of social media and online shopping, millennials are at greater risk of having their information compromised. Although we often hear about other people getting their identities stolen, that’s other people — not us, right?

But just to be safe, below are five ways to protect yourself online.

1. Password safety

Using the same password across multiple apps and websites is simple, but it’s not the best way to protect yourself. For instance, if all your friends have your Netflix password, and that also happens to be your banking password, then you’re just playing with fire. We understand that changing your password is annoying; however, there are password management apps out there that can help you remember your various logins.

2. Oversharing on social media

Fraudsters usually need at least two pieces of your personal information to steal your identity. If your birthday is listed on Facebook, along with your street address (from the FB party invites you sent out), then you are at risk. Always be mindful of what you’re posting, and who you’re accepting as a friend. Your mother was right, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If getting those happy birthday comments mean a lot to you, then change your birthday to mm/dd, leaving off the year to thwart identity thieves.

3. Shopping on untrustworthy sites

That amazing $15 deal for those must-have designer shoes on a site you’ve never heard of … is probably too good to be true. Before putting your financial information into a new site, check for the padlock icon in the address bar. That icon lets you know the site is safe and secure. Some browsers will also highlight the address bar of trustworthy sites in green. Untrustworthy sites will be highlighted in red.

Pro tip: Look to sites like the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Reports for reviews on specific websites’ customer service and business practices.

4. Using unsecure public Wi-Fi

Try not to shop online when you're using public Wi-Fi networks. You never know if your information is being tracked and logged on a public network — so it's best to wait until you get home. Or use your smartphone’s data network, which is safer than free Wi-Fi.

5. Installing 3rd party or unverified apps

New apps can be exciting and fun, but before you input your financial information, check to see if the app has been around for a few years and has high ratings and good reviews from users. Never be the first to download a new shopping app since fraudsters have been known to use fake shopping apps to harvest their victims’ information.

Also, if you’re interacting with brands on social media, make sure they’re “verified” by the little blue checkmark next to their profile (which means the company is legit).

What to remember

Cybersecurity isn’t the sexiest topic to discuss, but it is important. Although we assume a security breach won’t happen to us, identity theft is a real issue. Take a moment to change your password or utilize a VPN if you have one available. Taking a few simple steps to secure your online activity can be the difference between a virtual headache and happiness.

More information

You can never be too careful when protecting your bank accounts online. To learn more, visit our security, privacy, and fraud-prevention page for more tips on how to stay safe online.

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