Thursday, February 4, 2010

Internet Security Notes - Financial

With my son off at school, armed with a credit card, it is probably as good a time as any to talk about some Internet security rules, especially as they pertain to online purchases.

When you establish an account in your own name, with a user login and a password, the computer will often offer a pop-up saying “Do you want to remember your password?” With the exception of our home computer that is only used by our family, I never let my computer auto complete logins or remember passwords. Each computer that can do that likely increases the odds of your account getting hacked. Even one is probably too many. Although many of us might do it, it is not a good idea to use the same password for every account you use, especially if that is a relatively short password.

My son now has a debit card for his own account, and a credit card (my account) for larger purchases – mainly books. We have already seen that there are times when he will need to order and pay for something online. Which to use? NEVER use a debit card for online purchases. It is much harder to dispute purchases made with a debit card, especially when the funds are withdrawn immediately from a checking account. I’ve read recently that gas stations are another place where you should use a credit card rather than a debit card because it is apparently very easy to clone your account from a gas pump. If you have to use a debit card, stick with one that has a credit card logo (Visa or MasterCard) and input the number as a credit card.

Even following the two maxims above, there is always a possibility that your account will be violated. It is a good habit to frequently check your bank accounts and credit card accounts online to keep an eye out for unusual activity.

I have encouraged my son to establish an online banking account, and to learn how to check his balance and transfer funds from his savings to his checking account. Besides the reassurance that no one has illegally accessed his accounts, monitoring the declining balance will be a good lesson for him in money management. Currently, he has no income to replace the balance; so I hope he understands that he’s got to watch it.


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