data securityThere seems to be stories every day on the news about malicious websites stealing the personal data of thousands of people. Fraudsters and scammers set up these sites knowing people are in a rush or don’t know the signs of what makes a website secure. That’s why Humboldt Merchant Services has put together a list of what to look for to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate site.

Look for the “s.” Web sites that have a secure connection often have a web address with the https:// instead of the typical http://. A secure connection encrypts information being sent to and from the website, so it’s a good indicator the site is trustworthy. Depending on the web browser you’re using, it might even change the color of the website address bar to show a secure website.

Encrypted websites. Apple’s browser, Safari, checks if the website’s certificate is legitimate. If it’s not, Safari displays a warning message and also warns about phishing website. If a website is encrypted in Safari, an encryption icon shows that the website uses the HTTPS protocol, has a digital identity certificate and encrypts information. To view the website’s certificate, click the icon. Learn more about Apple’s different levels of certification.

Read the reviews. If you’re surfing the internet and you come across a site that has great deals, but the design of the website raises a red flag, search for reviews on the company. The reviews of previous customers will give you a gauge on if you can trust the site or not.

Site Identity. Mozilla’s Firefox browser has a security feature called a Site Identity button that can let you know whether a website is encrypted or not. The button can also let you know who owns the site and who has verified ownership. This level of security will help you avoid malicious websites trying to compromise your personal data.

Stated Statement. According to Norton by Symantec reputable sites will have a privacy statement that spells out how they protect your personal data and whether they sell information about their customers to another company. Read the statement and make sure you are comfortable with their practices before using their site.

Right-click, right website? Right-clicking a hyperlink and selecting “Properties” will let you know where the link will send you. If the information looks different than what you expected, it might be better off not to use the site. But if you do, proceed with caution and use common sense if something looks too good to be true.

The best thing we can tell you is to check, double-check and check again if you have questions about the legitimacy of a website.

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