As the holiday season is often chaotic, it’s not surprising that more Americans turn to the convenience of online shopping. In fact, it has been reported that online sales between November 1 and December 31, 2014 grew 13.9% compared to the same period in 2013.1
In 2014, $16 billion was stolen from 12.7 million identity theft victims.2
With the ease of Internet shopping however, comes its dreaded counterpart – the ease of identity theft. In 2014 alone, $16 billion was stolen from 12.7 million identity theft victims.2 That’s why we’re stressing the importance of being mindful of your personal information while you shop this holiday season. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Be Mindful While Shopping from Your Phone
Using your smartphone to shop can likely be an ultimate timesaver. In fact, in 2014, shopping from a mobile device accounted for 45% of all online retail traffic.3 Identity thieves are well aware of these statistics and are constantly developing new strategies to hit these devices hard. Therefore, be sure to pay attention to the following:
- Never shop using public Wi-Fi: Although it might seem convenient to use the network at your local Starbucks to make a few purchases, these hotspots are favorites for Wi-Fi “Sniffers.” It’s simple for thieves to access your device through these networks and easily steal your credit card information and account numbers. Be sure you always use a secure network, like your own 3G or 4G network, to shop online.
- Setup a passcode to unlock your phone and your banking apps: If your phone is lost or stolen, you’ll be thankful you setup a passcode to get into your phone, along with differing passwords to access each of your financial apps. Having two layers of protection will give you more time to wipe your phone clean before a hacker gains access to your data.
Keep Your Personal Computer Up-to-Date
Take the time to keep everything secure and updated on your laptop and home computers as this could mean the difference between dealing with the stress of identity theft versus enjoying a carefree holiday season.
- Keep your operating system current: Although it’s easy to ignore system updates, new operating systems often offer the latest technological advancements in protection by fixing past security holes. So do yourself a favor and take those extra few minutes to update your operating system the day it becomes available.
- Use security software: By installing integrated cybersecurity suites, you’ll gain the protection of firewalls, antivirus, antispyware, antispam, and parental controls. Security software can help keep your computer safe from vulnerabilities and attackers.
Don’t Fall Victim to Phishing Scams
As November and December are busy shopping months, and, it’s the time of giving, it’s easy to fall prey to Internet phishing scams. Take the time to ensure you’re giving your personal information to legitimate companies.
- Beware of charitable phishing scams: Don’t give your personal information on unsolicited phone calls and emails asking for charitable contributions. Always double check that the foundation is authentic by researching them online and calling them back on their official phone number.
- Don’t fall victim to offers that look too good to be true: If a website is offering a product at a huge discount which you haven’t found anywhere else on the web, chances are it’s a scam, and is in fact too good to be true. Make sure that any website you enter your information on has a safe shopping guarantee, like Entrust or McAfee. You can also use websites like Norton Safe Web to look up a site and get its security rating.
Regularly Check Your Credit Report
By checking your credit report regularly and signing up for products like ProtectMyID® to monitor your credit report, you can be alerted when key changes are detected and be more prepared to handle fraud or identity theft if it does happen. Stay informed, and check your credit report often for any suspicious activity.
Learn more about our services below and ways to safeguard your identity by visiting ProtectMyID. ProtectMyID is offered to AAA members, and can help you identify identity theft by alerting you to possible suspicious activity.