Things like shopping online or making a donation to a charity don’t need to cause stress or worry, but they are areas where a little knowledge goes a long way. Here are a few tips for keeping your personal information safe, while spending and donating safely.
Phone and Mail
While the Internet is all the rage, sweepstakes entries, special offers and requests for donations still come in daily via mail or phone. Here are a few tips for these situations:
On the phone, never give financial and personal information such as your Social Security number, credit card information or bank account numbers to callers you do not know.
- Remember that contests for prizes and sweepstakes entries should not require any type of payment.
- Whether via email, phone or mail, avoid any type of foreign lottery offers (which are illegal) or offers requesting money to be wire transferred or sent overnight.
- For more information on how to protect yourself from mail and telephone fraud, check out this article: Protect Yourself From Telemarketing and Mail Fraud – AARP.org.
Making donations safely:
- If a nonprofit is calling or soliciting a donation in person, and it’s an organization you’re actually interested in giving to, take down the name. You can then research the organization online to make sure it’s reputable.
- Watch out for “fake” or less-reputable charities with names similar to more well-known groups.
- Never be pressured into giving on the spot. Take time to plan your donations and give to organizations you trust.
- Check out AARP.org’s 5 Keys to Smart Charitable Giving.
These days, more and more consumers are using their computers to shop for everything from books and presents to groceries. Shopping and banking online is commonplace, and a few precautions can help keep your money and personal information protected:
- When you shop online, choose reputable merchants, such as those you are already familiar with or who also have brick-and-mortar stores.
- Keep your web browser updated, as some of the latest have added safety features. If your browser asks if you want it to remember your passwords, say “No.”
- When shopping online, look up at the website address. The “http” should say “https” on the pages where you enter your credit card and personal information. You should also see a small closed padlock symbol in the website address bar or the lower right corner of the window of these pages.
- To make your passwords harder for hackers to crack, use 12 characters, and add a few symbols, numbers and a combination of upper- and lowercase letters. Also use different passwords for different sites. If you’re worried that will make remembering your passwords difficult, check out this handy article with tips: Passwords to Head Off Hackers – AARP.org.
- Remember that banks and shopping sites will not ask you to confirm your credit card or other sensitive information in an email. If you get such an email, it may be “phishing,” where a scammer tries to make an email appear as if it’s from a legitimate source to get your personal information.
Easy tips like the ones above can help you shop and donate worry free. To learn more, visit the links below.