Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I've got to run out to the store later to see what's left for the crowd at my house tomorrow, so this will be my last post for a while. Between turkey and football and the 'rents and the kids and some scheduled maintenance for some customers, this little corner will be quiet.
1) If you shop online, make sure your payment info is only entered into a secured website.
If this sounds obvious, it's not. It's easy to forget to check the menu bar of your browser for that little padlock and an address beginning with "https". No matter how much you trust the company unless your payment data is secured, don't use the site.
2) Think twice before clicking links in emails from banks or online stores.
It is the easiest thing in the world to create a fake version of PayPal, Amazon, or even Chase or Wells Fargo. Phishers all over the world do it every day. Then they send out "blast" emails with generic-sounding text about an account being frozen or suspicious activity with a link, presumably to your account. The link will lead you to a fake website where any information you enter will be stolen and passed around like a bottle of wine. If you have any doubts at all as to the validity of an email from your bank or online shopping outlet, call their customer service directly via phone to confirm.
3) Upgrade your passwords to your online banking or shopping sites.
Daily Finance from AOL posted an article last week listing the Top 25 Worst passwords. This is how hackers get into your account: they just guess that you're using a simple easy-to-guess password and they are often right. Take the time to create a complex password for your accounts that only you know. My hosting provider just recently required all email passwords to have at least one capital letter, one punctuation character, one number, and one lower-case letter, and a minimum of 8 characters total. It's good advice all around. If you think you don't have time to create a secure password, then you really don't have time to reclaim your identity and your life once it's been stolen online.
This Saturday is Small Business Saturday where shoppers are encouraged to shop at a locally-owned business for their holiday needs. I'm not against larger corporations and their benefits, but small businesses put more money back into the local economy. In Dunwoody, the majority of our business community are locally-owned enterprises so when you shop Dunwoody first, you are directly supporting your neighbors and your city. That includes any eateries for when you stop and take a break, plus other household services that you normally use all year. Give them a try and you may find a treasure chest of products and services that you won't find anywhere else.
Feel free to use the comments below to post suggestions for local businesses to check out this weekend.
If you're a small business looking to think big online, drop SDOC Publishing a line at our website and let's talk about what the Internet can do for you. We're lining up new projects for our customers and now is a great time to get on the schedule and your web-based enterprise off the ground!