How to protect information when online shopping

RICHMOND, Va. (WBAY) — More and more retailers will be offering Black Friday deals online this year.

There will also be more people taking advantage of these online sales.

According to the National Retail Federation, more people are expected to shop online this holiday season than ever before.

Shoppers are expected to do 46 percent of their shopping online, that’s up from 44 percent last year, and spend about $400.

Online shopping often requires that customers create a password-protected account that stores credit card information.

Experts said hackers are getting smarter each year, so it is important to create a strong password.

“Letters, both capital and small letter, numbers, and special characters,” said Curt Esser, owner of Esser Consulting LLC.

According to online security company Bit9, a hacker could guess an eight-character, lowercase password in 3.5 minutes.

If a password had an uppercase letter, it would take the hacker 15 hours to crack, and adding a special character to a password with an uppercase letter would take the hacker 70 days to figure out.

“The longer the better, and the more complex the better,” Esser said. “A good password is one that you cannot remember.”

Identity thieves are also getting better at hiding their crime at first.

“They usually start with a very small purchase like a dollar just to make sure that it works,” said Susan Bach, Better Business Bureau Regional Director. “And once that small purchase goes through then they’re going to turn around and buy some big ticket items.”

That’s why the BBB said it’s important to check credit card statements and contact your credit card company if you see any unexpected charges.

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