Have you thought about what will happen if the United States Postal Service continues to reduce their services? How will you be impacted if they cut out Saturday delivery? Does your life get put on hold because they decrease service? I’m not going to sit around and wait for them. The answer lies in electronic and paperless options available today. Many companies and individuals are already taking advantage of electronic commerce, along with the cost savings they offer.
One common question people ask is, “Is it safe?” The answer is yes, with the proper precautions. In fact, the majority of identity theft occurs as a result of “offline” as opposed to “online” transactions. There are precautions you should take with either approach, but here are five to consider if you go with an electronic approach:
- Do business with reputable companies. It doesn’t really matter if you’re doing business on paper or online – work with a shady company and you’re at risk. Reputable companies understand that a breach of security will cost them and they’ll have preventive measures in place.
- Computer protection. Make sure you have up-to-date anti-virus, spyware, and firewall protection on your PC. You may not know what protection a public computer has, so don’t enter private information when using one.
- Watch for phony e-mails (phishing). Be mindful of suspicious e-mail asking you to provide private information or click on a link provided in the e-mail message – it could be an attempt to steal your private information. You can find more information about phishing at http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/phishing-symptoms.aspx.
- Regularly change your password. Don’t share your password, keep it in a safe place, and update it regularly. Make sure you don’t repeatedly use the same password for all your transactions. If one is breached, this allows hackers access to all your information. Finally, make sure your password is a good mix of letters, numbers, and mixed case.
- Use secure connections. Before you enter private information into a website, make sure the URL begins with HTTPS. The “S” is important and indicates you have a secure connection. You should only enter private information into a web page over a secure connection.
Are you using or considering paperless options? If so, I’d like to hear your thoughts.