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Keep your PayPal account safer with two-factor authentication

If you use PayPal and don't take your account security seriously, you are asking for all sorts of trouble, what with all the financial information your account holds. After all, you don't want someone to get into your PayPal account and pay themselves your entire life savings. Using two-factor authentication can help keep malicious types at bay.

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection between your account and would-be data thieves by requiring you to enter a single-use security code--typically sent to your phone via text message--in addition to your username and password when you log in. This can help ensure your account's safety in the event that someone gets ahold of your login credentials without your permission.

To use two-factor authentication on PayPal, you use its Security Key feature, which lets you get security codes sent to your phone. For $30, you can purchase a standalone security key device that generates security codes for you. For the sake of this story, we'll show you how to set it up on your phone.

Start by visiting PayPal's Security Key page, and read through it to understand your options. Once you have, click the link labelled Get extra protection with a PayPal Security Key now, located at the bottom of the page. PayPal will ask you to log in with your username and password if you haven't already.

On the next screen, PayPal will ask you to choose whether you want to order a security key, set up your account to use security codes sent to your phone, or to set up a security key device. Press the Order button under Register Your Phone to proceed to the next step.

Next, enter your cellphone number in the appropriate fields, make note of the terms and conditions (and how to turn off two-factor authentication), and then press Agree and Register. PayPal will then send a six-digit security code to your phone to confirm that it is indeed yours. Enter the code when prompted and press Activate. The code expires after 5 minutes.

And that's it--you've made your account a little safer. The next time you log in to your PayPal account, you'll have to enter a security code after you enter your username and password.

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