Published on November 7th, 2021 | by Sunit Nandi0
How Secure is Your Share? Deciding What Information to Share Online
In an increasingly digital world, it can be hard to balance the convenience of online purchasing with the need to protect your personal and banking information. Even the best encryption can be hacked, and it’s important to make sure you trust a website before entering any information. Different types of information carry different levels of privacy concerns. To decide what is safe for you to type out and what isn’t, here is a ranking of the most common information you’ll be asked for & their associated risks.
Risk factor: 1/10. Your email address is an extremely common thing for websites to ask for, and sharing it comes with a very low level of security risk. After all, if you’re using online security tools, chances are that they asked for your email address to activate your subscription. Entering your email address on websites will likely net you a flurry of marketing emails, which you may or may not be interested in, but you’re unlikely to run into other problems. Be sure to never share your password with any website, and make sure that you have a secure password just in case.
Risk factor: 3/10. Giving your mailing address is a necessity when ordering anything for delivery but it does come with a slightly higher risk than giving out your email address. If you use your home address to receive mail, you’ll want to make sure that you trust the website that you are ordering from. Look for symbols and logos that certify the website encrypts your order data. You can also check online reviews from previous buyers to make sure that the site has a reputation for processing orders responsibly. If you receive mail to a PO box or similar, that gives you an extra level of protection against fraud.
PayPal, Venmo, Cash or Similar Address
Risk factor: 6/10. As you move into sharing financial information online, your risk factor starts going up exponentially. 3rd party payment processing services, such as PayPal, Venmo, Cashapp, and others, can offer a security blanket that you don’t get when you share your direct credit card or banking information. These services often offer dispute processes and buyer/seller protection in the event of fraud. It’s still a best practice to research a website or seller before agreeing to send any money, however.
Credit Card Information
Risk factor: 8/10. Sharing your credit card information, including the account number, expiration date, CVC code, and billing zip code, is a very risky thing to do online if you’re not being very careful. Without the extra layer of security that a 3rd party processing service can offer, you’re more open to fraudulent uses of your card. If the worst happens, you’ll have to deal with the issuer of your card directly to rectify the situation. The good news is that most card issuers have a dedicated fraud department to assist. In fact, their usage monitoring may even help prevent fraud from occurring in the first place. Mitigate your risk here by choosing credit cards with excellent fraud protection policies, and by ensuring that you are only purchasing items through an encrypted service.
Bank Account Information
Risk factor: 10/10. Sharing your bank account information is one of the riskiest things that you can share online, but sometimes it’s necessary. You may need to share it to register with a 3rd party payment processor, or to avoid paying the processing fees that come with using credit or debit cards. Making sure you trust the website that you are using is of the utmost importance here. You will also want to closely monitor your bank account information to ensure that your transaction (and only your intended transaction) processes correctly.
Sharing your personal and banking information online can come with risks, but it can also be done safely. At all times, make sure you trust the website or seller that you are dealing with before entering your information. Then, only enter the information that is absolutely necessary. When in doubt, it’s best to not share.