More consumers are conducting financial transactions online. These transactions may become vulnerable to tracking, hacking, identity theft, phishing scams, and other cyberspace risks. While nothing can guarantee complete safety on the Internet, understanding how to protect your financial information and privacy can help minimize your risk exposure.

Here are some ways to safeguard your information:

Read privacy policies.

Before conducting any financial transactions online, carefully read the privacy policies of each institution that you plan to do business with. Email or call customer service to request a simplified explanation of the privacy policy if the legal jargon is difficult to understand.

Avoid using weak PINS and passwords.

When deciding on PINS, passwords, and other log-in information, avoid using your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number, your phone number, or your mother’s maiden name. Avoid other obvious choices, like a series of consecutive numbers or your hometown. Also, do not use the same PINS and passwords on multiple sites.

Look for secure web pages.

Use only secure browsers when shopping online to safeguard your transactions during transmission. There are two general indicators of a secured web page. First, check that the web page URL begins with “HTTPS.” Most URLs start with “HTTP.” When an “s” is present at the end, it indicates password encryption before being sent to a third-party server. Second, look for a “lock” icon in the browser’s window. (It will not be in the web page display area.) Double-click on this icon to read the site’s security policy details. Be cautious about providing your financial information to unfamiliar websites. Larger companies and well-known websites have developed policies to protect customers’ rights and financial information. So, resist the temptation of providing personal information to unknown companies.

Keep your operating system up to date.

High-priority updates are critical to the security and reliability of your computer and offer the latest protection against malicious online activities. When your computer prompts you to conduct an update, do it as soon as possible.

Update your antivirus software and spyware.

Keep both your antivirus and your spyware programs updated regularly.

Keep your firewall turned on.

A firewall helps protect your computer from hackers who might try to delete information, crash your computer, or steal your passwords or credit card numbers. Make sure your firewall is always on.

Do your homework.

To discover more tips for securing your computer and protecting your private information when conducting financial transactions online, visit,, or In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works on behalf of consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair practices in the marketplace. To file a complaint or obtain more information, visit or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382- 4357).


New risks, and additional protective measures, will be revealed as the Internet continues to evolve. However, it is up to you to safeguard your financial information online through education and awareness.


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