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Consumer Reports Warns Against the Top Seven Online Blunders

2008-08-04 17:06:00

Consumer Reports Warns Against the Top Seven Online Blunders

    The Most Common Mistakes that Can Cause Data Loss and Identity Theft

    YONKERS, N.Y., Aug. 4 /EMWNews/ -- Consumers beware --

careless online behavior can lead to serious issues, such as a ruined

computer or identity theft. In its September issue, Consumer Reports

identifies seven of the most common online errors and offers advice on what

consumers can do to avoid a Web disaster. The worst missteps include:

    1. Assuming your security software is protecting you. Because security

software is fully effective only when activated and frequently updated,

consumers must renew their subscriptions when they expire. Most software

requires an annual subscription fee, so pay up to stay covered.

    2. Accessing an account through an e-mail link. Clicking on an embedded

Web link can give cybercriminals account access, and lead to identity

theft. Even the most official-looking e-mail messages can be fraudulent, so

access online accounts only by typing the institution's Web address in a


    3. Using a single password for all online accounts. Using one password

for all accounts provides easy access for someone looking to steal a

consumer's identity. Try using variations on one password -- the best

passwords use a combination of at least eight letters, numbers, or

punctuation symbols.

    4. Downloading free software. Free downloads often come at the price of

added spyware which can slow down your computer. To avoid spyware, download

freeware from reputable sites like and

    5. Thinking your Mac shields you from all risks. Phishing scams are

just as much a threat to Mac users as Windows users. Since Apple's Safari

browser has no phishing protection, users should try Firefox or Opera


    6. Clicking on a pop-up ad that says your PC is insecure. Clicking on a

pop-up is never a good idea. Avoid accidentally opening the pop-up by

carefully clicking on the "close button" or get rid of pop-ups altogether

by enabling the browser's pop-up blocker.

    7. Shopping online the same way you do in stores. To avoid scams, use a

separate credit card for Internet purchases and don't use a debit card. Or

get a virtual account number from your credit-card company, which is good

for only one purchase for a specific vendor.

    The latest issue of Consumer Reports also includes test results of

security software and ratings on the latest laptop and desktop computers.

The report also includes an extensive investigation into ID leaks, and why

the government is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to exposing

personal information. For more information on the "Seven Online Blunders"

and the entire computer protection package, check out the September issue

of Consumer Reports on newsstands August 5, 2008 or visit

    SEPTEMBER 2008

    The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it

may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R)

is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit

organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe

marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect

themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To

maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no

outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the

interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of

our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few

noncommercial grants.

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Blake Masterson

Freelance Writer, Journalist and Father of 5

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