Image from Public Domain Pictures

As consumers enter the peak period for online holiday shopping, the office of Comptroller Peter Franchot has issued a series of tips to help shoppers thwart cyber criminals.

First, shop only at known, trusted and secure sites. Look for an “s” at the end of “http” in the web address, or the “lock” icon in the browser’s bar.

Other tips include:

  • Never shop or conduct other financial transactions on public Wi-Fi, which often is unprotected and open to cyber thieves.
  • Be wary of phishing schemes that appear to be from a trusted source asking for email addresses and passwords via a link. Make sure the sending address is legitimate.
  • Install security software to protect against malware and computer viruses.
  • Use a unique password for each account. Experts generally recommend that each password be at least 10 characters long and use a mix of letters, number and symbols.
  • Use multi-factor authentication if available for an account, which means that users may need a security code, usually sent as a text to their mobile phone, in addition to a username and password.
  • If offered, sign up for account alerts to quickly learn of potentially suspicious transactions.
  • Any financial information kept on a computer should be encrypted and backed up to an external source. Wipe this information before disposing of any device.
Mike Diegel