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Despite data breaches, it's still safe to shop online

When it comes to online shopping, we often fear that we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to having our identities and personal information stolen and abused. While some people are wary of making purchases online, the truth is that major data hacks - like the one that happened with Target about six months ago - are actually a result of shopping in a brick and mortar store.

A recent article in USA Today claims that 24 percent of Americans have stopped shopping online due to these data breaches, and are worried about keeping their financial information secure. But as with any experience, shopping online can be considerably less dangerous if you just know how to do it in a smart and secure way.

Here are a few tips for safe online shopping:

  • Be careful who you give your information out to: When you make a purchase online, there is some information that you are going to have to produce, such as your credit card number and home address for shipping. Other than these pieces of data, however, you should not make anything public. Your social security number in particular should be kept under wraps.
  • Check your bank statements: The easiest way for you to be able to detect any fraud is to keep an eye on your financial records. Go online throughout the month to make sure there has been no suspicious activity, as well as fully reviewing the statement sent to you by the bank. Any illegal purchases will stand out.
  • Use familiar websites: While looking for a place to make a purchase, make sure that you only use verified websites that can be trusted with your information. Although not impervious to hacks, major websites such as Amazon will have relatively stronger layers of security to keep you safe.

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