As an internet retailer and online shopper, I am always concerned about internet security and safety. There is a lot of spam, viruses and malware floating around the web and some forget to keep their system safe. Here are some basic tips:
1. Shop at sites with a secure payment link (SSL) indicated by https:// in the URL.
2. Do not give out your social security number on the internet (I think most of us know this by now).
3. Be careful clicking on hypertext links in emails. Hover over the link first and make sure the URL looks like the one indicated in the email. A better bet is to manually type in the URL or go to a bookmark instead of clicking on email links.
4. Social networking sites (such as MySpace) are notorious for spam and more recently a target for malware and virus spreading. Tread with care.
5. Consider paying with Paypal or check or money order if you are leery about giving away your credit card over the internet. And, check your credit card statements every few weeks to make sure there are no unauthorized charges. I personally have used paypal for over 8 years and have not once had an issue.
6. Strongly consider buying a firewall, spyware and virus protection for your computer (especially if you have a wireless network). Top choices are Trend Micro and Zone Alarm (I personally have used both and prefer Trend Micro). Both get top ratings in Consumer Reports and they cost about $50 per year. A small price to pay for peace of mind.