When I was in college social media wasn’t really around yet. And no, I am not that old, its just that things have come so far in the past 15 years that it will blow your mind. There have been some fantastic inventions and even better, some fantastic ways to share and connect with those around you. As an advocate for charity I am often showcasing volunteer work or even showcasing places online that you can share or donate time, money, and goods. But even with the future of all this technology and connection and the great way that we can come together for charity reasons, it has unfortunately attracted more online ways to scam the average decent person that has a good heart.
It’s daily in social media, specifically in Facebook streams, that we get bombarded with reasons to donate and its so easy to be taken advantage of. And while you should absolutely be charitable and giving, you should also be wary of where your money goes and question that the hands that it hits is legitimate. Any charity that is reputable won’t mind you asking questions prior to donating, but you also need to careful that your online identity isn’t compromised and used without your permission.
5 Tips to protecting your credit card safety online
While it is not always easy to tell, there are a few ways you can help protect your online credit card numbers, thereby keeping any donations you do safe and to the right hands
1) Be aware that websites that are secure have an “Https://” instead of an “Http” on them.
2) Make sure you shred (not just throw away) preapproved or solicitations for credit card offers or lines
3) Go directly to a sites webpage to donate and make sure its the official one. Answering emails that are unsolicited is a surefire way to pass on your information to the wrong hands. Scammers are finding more and more ways to make emails look like they came from an legitimate source so do not assume that a name or a graphic makes it OK.
4) Check your statements. I have been guilty of getting my statements online and ignoring everything but what I owe. I recently found 3 charges of a reoccurring bill that I was not aware of. While the company did refund the money, it totaled $100 that I did not authorize over the course of 3 months. Had I been doing a better job checking my bills, it wouldn’t have gotten so far.
5) Make sure all your online passwords are different. You do not want someone who gets 1 password to your email to also be able to login to your facebook, bank account, and bills. Even if varying a few numbers or letters, make sure all passwords are just for that one website.
Appropriately October is also the National Cyber Security Awareness Month and National Crime Prevention Month.
We lead Web-based, digital lives. From personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, e-book readers, to working, shopping, and social networking, virtually every aspect of our lives touches the digital world. Even when we are not directly connected to the Internet, this vast worldwide connection of computers, data, and websites supports our everyday lives through financial transactions, transportation systems, healthcare records, emergency response systems, personal communications, and more. ~StaySafeOnline.org
Take a look at what you are doing online and do an overhaul of your online safety. There are things you can do in your every day life to make sure you are not exposing yourself to unnecessary risk, starting with the tips above. I personally have not been scammed with online donating, at least where I am aware, and most of my donations have been done in person. However, there is a first time for everything and I have most definitely had my credit card compromised. An ounce of prevention now is worth its weight in the future. Also, do not forget that it is our responsibility to teach our children to protect their online identities as well.
Last but not least, remember that Lifelock has a game on their webpage where you an answer questions about online safety to win prizes!
Have you ever been scammed by thinking you were donating to charity or legitimate source online?
I have received compensation for my participation as a LifeLock Ambassador. All opinions are my own.