Navigating internet security can seem like a minefield of potential traps, fraud, and scams. The dangers shouldn’t deter you from using the internet’s many advantages — convenience, speed, and generally safe transactions — but you should still be aware of the risks and know how to conduct transactions securely.
Let’s explore some of the basic things to know when you’re conducting personal business and transactions online — from wire transfers to secure document uploads, both locally and internationally — to help your security and gain confidence on the web.
10 Tips for More Secure Online Transactions
Whether you’re making transactions online, wiring money, or transferring any personal information over the internet, follow these best practices to keep yourself and your assets protected.
#1 Don’t Use Public Wifi for Sensitive Transactions
Public wifi is a boon, and great for simple things like sending a quick iMessage or checking the weather, but it should never be used to access or transfer secure information or funds. Hackers can easily access public networks, and anything you view — your bank accounts, secure emails or personal information, can all be accessed with little effort.
If you need to do anything online that involves sensitive information, wait until you’re on a secure network, especially when traveling. Also, don’t use public equipment and devices — computers, phones, faxes — to transfer sensitive information. This includes the devices available at your hotel. If it can be accessed by anyone else other than you, it’s not secure enough to risk fraud or theft.
#2 Use Strong Passwords and Change Them Frequently
People have a tendency to choose passwords that are easy to remember, often based on personal details like birthdays, pet’s or children’s, or addresses — but try to avoid this temptation. These are the easiest passwords for hackers and fraudsters to guess, putting you and your information at risk.
Keep your passwords as random as possible, and change them frequently. Also, make sure they’re different from one another. For example, don’t use the same password for your banking website that you use to log into Facebook.
#3 Use Security Settings and Software
Use your devices’ security settings to your advantage. For example, in your phone’s settings, you can turn off the auto-join function that will automatically connect you to public or known wifi when it’s available.
You can also install security software on your devices for additional protection. Be sure to keep up with installing any updates, especially before and after traveling.
#4 Watch Out for Common Signs of Fraud
Fraudsters target people online who are not aware of the signs of fraud, so protect yourself by staying alert for suspicious activity. Particularly before wiring money or completing online transactions, be aware of signs like: blatant spelling or grammar errors, urgent requests, changing instructions or account numbers, or deals that sound too good to be true.
If you receive a communication that requests personal details or sensitive information, do not trust it. You can always call your financial institution or the sender to confirm that the message was theirs.
#5 Be Wary of Attachments or Links
Don’t open any attachments from an email unless you can confirm that you know and trust the sender. The same goes for links in an email. On a computer, you can hover your mouse over a link, and if the link looks suspicious or unfamiliar, don’t click on it.
#6 Don’t Give Up Control of Your Devices
If someone asks to borrow your device, or they ask to help you fix it — particularly if it’s someone you don’t know or who contacts you online — refuse. Criminals can use scareware to convince you that something is wrong with your device, or ransomware to prevent you from accessing information, in exchange for a fee.
The best way to prevent this is to not give anyone you don’t know access to your device. But, if you find yourself a victim of this type of fraud, contact the Federal Trade Commission.
#7 Verify Email Addresses
Whenever you receive an email requesting sensitive information or regarding an online transaction, always verify the sender of an email. Fraudsters will often use an email to contact you that is very similar to the one you recognize on sight, but maybe alter it slightly by changing a letter or adding punctuation. If you’re ever unsure that an email address belongs to who it says it does, call and confirm.
#8 Monitor Your Accounts for Fraudulent Activity
Consistently review your accounts to check for fraudulent activity — but be aware of where you do this. Never access your banking information when using public wifi. If you notice any suspicious activity or unknown charges, contact your bank on a secure line and shut down the credit card or freeze the account.
#9 Don’t Carry Sensitive Data
A great way to protect yourself from hackers or fraudsters accessing sensitive data is not to carry it with you in the first place. Back up your devices, especially before you travel, and don’t carry bank information, personal identification numbers, or other sensitive information on your devices.
Memorize important information, or keep it in a secured, password-protected place on the cloud. This way, if you’re ever separated from your device and someone else gains access, they won’t also have learned all of your sensitive information.
#10 Work with Agencies You Trust to Keep Your Information Secure
Choose agencies that prioritize your privacy and security when completing online transactions. Using a trusted escrow service for large wire transfers is a great way to ensure a secure transaction.
At Global Escrow Solutions, your security is important to us. We protect you by:
- providing clear instructions for transferring money via wire transfer,
- never changing our instructions
- never changing our account number
- building a document upload portal so you can trust your information to be processed securely
We’re always accessible to our clients if there are any concerns and we’re happy to confirm details and walk you through the process to make the transaction as smooth and stress-free as possible.
We’re here to help you buy with confidence. Reach out to us to learn about the ways we’re looking out for you.