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Computers and the Internet offer convenience and access to a world of information and services.  Unfortunately, they can also leave you open to a world of financial dangers.  Whether it’s buying on-line with your credit card, viewing accounts, or doing on-line banking, be careful when completing on-line financial transactions. 

Listen to Secure On-Line TransactionsLook for the Lock!
When you’re completing a financial transaction on-line be sure to look for the lock…that is the lock icon on your internet browser.  Usually it appears up at the top, to the right of the address of the website you’re viewing.  When you see that lock it means that you’re on a secure website.  You should also look for the letters “H T T P S” in the web address.  HTTPS connections are used for payment transactions and offer greater security than an address that just starts with HTTP.

Keep Security Software Up to Date!
Listen to Computer VirusesAnother way to keep your on-line financial transactions safe is to keep your operating software up to date Computer hackers are always looking for weakness in software and new security threats arise every day.  That’s why you need to install your operating software updates.  You’ll also want to have a good anti-virus program.  Anti-virus programs scan everything that goes into your computer including emails, discs, and data files.  They search for the thousands of viruses that can attack your computer.  Be sure to update anti-virus software regularly to protect you against emerging threats.  Regular updates and scans with a good anti-virus program will help keep your computer healthy and your on-line financial transactions secure. 

Listen to SpywareBeware of Spyware!
Anti-virus programs are important, but so is an anti-spyware program.  Spyware programs target your computer and can infect it without you knowing about it.  Spyware can bombard you with pop-up ads and collect your personal information.  It can even change your computer settings.  That’s why it’s important to have a good anti-spyware program to watch for malicious programs, warn you when they find spyware, and then help remove it. 

Have a Good Firewall and Keep it Turned On!
Listen to FirewallsAn essential part of keeping your computer and your money safe on line is paying attention, using common sense, and avoiding spam and phishing scams.  To help you do that you should have a firewall program on your computer and keep it turned on.  Your computer firewall acts like a security check point that information must pass through before it can enter or leave your computer.  Your firewall also helps to prevent your computer from accepting unauthorized changes.
Use Common Sense
Think of your computer as the front door to your house.  You wouldn’t leave your front door wide open for anyone to enter, nor should you leave your computer open to fraud and robbery by operating without firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-spyware programs.
Be careful with unsolicited emails, or emails with attachments and links…even from people or business you think you know.  Fraudsters can be very sophisticated in imitating legitimate businesses.  If you think you know a sender, but something seems suspicious be careful.  Verify through a separate email or phone call that it is indeed from the person or business it appears to be.  If you find that the message is not from the person it said it was delete it. 

Also be wary of clicking on pop-up windows and banner ads.  Never click “Agree” or “OK” or “I Accept” to get rid of a pop-up ad or an unexpected warning…even if it’s a “Free” offer to remove something malicious.  Instead close the window by clicking on the “X” in the upper right hand corner of the window.

Only download programs and software from websites that you trust.  Be especially careful around sites that offer free file-sharing, music, movies, or games.  These “free” sites are notorious for also providing unwitting users with free spyware and viruses.

Be careful on-line, especially when conducting financial transactions.  If something looks suspicious, play it safe and avoid it!