MCC Daily Tribune Archive

Crime Prevention Tip of the Month for October: Safe Shopping OnLine

The MCC Public Safety Department is proud to introduce the Crime Prevention Tip of the Month program. Each month the Public Safety Department will address current crime issues and trends within our campus community and nationwide. This new program will provide our faculty, staff, and student body with tips and suggestions on how to protect against becoming a victim of crime. MCC Public Safety hopes you find this program informative and welcomes your input and suggestions for future Crime Prevention Tips of the Month. In light of the coming holiday shopping season, the October Crime Prevention Tip will address purchasing goods and services online.

Safe Shopping Online

Why do online shoppers have to take special precautions?

The Internet offers a convenience that is not available from any other shopping outlet. From the comfort of your home, you can search for items from countless vendors, compare prices with a few simple mouse clicks, and make purchases without waiting in line. However, the Internet is also convenient for attackers, giving them multiple ways to access the personal and financial information of unsuspecting shoppers. Attackers who are able to obtain this information may use it for their own financial gain, either by making purchases themselves or by selling the information to someone else.

How can you protect yourself? 

·         Use and maintain anti-virus software, a firewall, and anti-spyware software.  This software will lessen the chances of damaging or malicious software being installed on your computer that might allow an attacker the ability to gain control of your computer or perform “data-mining” tasks in which your personal data can be obtained and used or sold to others without your permission.

Keep software, particularly your web browser, up to date. Constantly update your software packages and install all manufacturer authorized update packets so your computer system is up to date and able to protect itself against any new and developing security threats.

Do business with reputable vendors. Always look for vendors whom use data encryption and provide secure methods for on-line purchasing. All personal and financial data must be transmitted to the vendor using secure data transmission software such as software used by Pay Pal.

Take advantage of security features - Passwords and other security features add layers of protection if used appropriately. Use complex passwords that consist of numbers, letters, and symbols whenever possible. Complex passwords are harder to “crack” and provide better protection of personal and financial data. In addition, change passwords often, every three months if possible, and do not use one password for multiple password protected systems. 

Be wary of emails requesting information - Attackers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information. Legitimate businesses, foreign governments, financial institutions, or lottery agencies will not solicit this type of information through email.

Make sure your information is being encrypted - Many sites use SSL, or secure sockets layer, to encrypt information. Indications that your information will be encrypted include a URL that begins with "https:" instead of "https:" and a padlock icon in the bottom right corner of the window (or next to the web address in Internet Explorer 7).

Use a credit card - Unlike debit cards, credit cards may have a limit on the monetary amount you will be responsible for paying if your information is stolen and used by someone else. You can further minimize damage by using a single credit card with a low credit line for all of your online purchases. Prepaid credit cards or “gift card” can also be used for safe, secure online purchasing of goods and/or services.

Check your statements - Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately to law enforcement and the bank with which the account is held.

Lee Struble
Public Safety