The convenience of shopping online can also place your identity, credit cards, and checking account information into the hands of the unscrupulous. The good news is that there are some effective strategies to follow to protect yourself while shopping online. Put these tips to work for you the next time you’re shopping online:

Avoid opening hotlinks and attachments

Even if they appear to be coming from a business you trust, be cautious!  Hackers can mail virus-filled links  using spyware or by phishing from websites they've constructed to look like the website of your bank or favorite boutique.

Be smart about your smartphone

Use your phone's pass code system. It's one more way to discourage a hacker from obtaining your personal information. The hacker will move on to the next person who isn't using a pass code.

Pay close attention to monthly statements

Go through each statement line by line. Be sure you recognize each charge . If you're unable to identify it, contact your bank or credit card company right away to inquire.

Refrain from online shopping while in your favorite coffee shop or diner

Such public wifi networks are a hacker's dream. The hacker just might be having coffee at the table right next to you.

Change passwords often

This one is tough, but worth the effort. Use capital and lower case letters with numbers and symbols. Use character names from your favorite play, book, or TV show. You can  use terms from your favorite sport. Strive for passwords  with 10 to 14 characters .