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Weaving Your Online Security Net

You can make online purchases and view your bank accounts online without making yourself an obvious candidate for identity theft. While there is always going to be a risk, there are simple steps you can take to prevent becoming a victim yourself while enjoying the conveniences the Internet has to offer.

Be careful not to send personal information in emails, which have none of these precautions

Look for the lock icon at the bottom right of your computer screen. If the icon is closed, the site should be secure. If it's open, however, the site is not secure. Some sites will use a whole key to symbolize a secure site and a broken key to symbolize one that is not secure.

Always check the website address at the top of the page. If it reads "https" - not "http" - the site should be secure. The "s" stands for secure.

Be careful not to send personal information in emails, which have none of these precautions. Only send information by email that you would be comfortable with anyone reading.

Use a different password online than the one you use to open your computer. Having one password makes you vulnerable to the online world - bolster your security by having a few strong passwords that you can remember.

For sensitive sites like the one you use to access your banking account, choose a special, more intricate password that is different from the ones you normally use. Don't rely on birthdays, anniversary dates, pets names or anything that would be too easy to guess.

Be very cautious about supplying your Social Security number on the Internet. In fact, if you're ever asked to supply your Social Security number on the computer, it might be a good idea to call the company asking for it to make sure the request is legitimate.

As an extra precaution, you may choose to not have the company you're dealing with keep your credit card information on file. It's safer to enter the necessary information each time you want to make a purchase.

Consider having a credit card specifically for use in online transactions. Having one credit card set aside for this purchase makes it easier to check your bill for suspicious charges.

You don't need to be vulnerable to attacks on your identity. Taking these simply, easy-to-follow steps can greatly improve your security.

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