Are you an online shopper? Did you know that online Cyber Monday sales generated more revenue than in-store Black Friday sales this year?
Chances are, you’ve contributed to those numbers—or will at some point this holiday season. But one of the biggest hazards of online shopping is identity theft and credit card fraud. Here are some simple things you can do to stop identity thieves and avoid falling victim to an online data breach or scammer while you’re taking care of your holiday shopping.
- Shop Only at Reputable Websites
Know where you’re shopping. Do your homework before completing a transaction and providing credit card numbers and other financial information. When in doubt, always type in the name of the site yourself instead of relying on a questionable link that may lead to a faked or phishing site.
- Watch out for Phishing Websites
Any website that is asking for personally identifying information should be carefully analyzed. No provider or vendor should ever ask for your password or SSN in an online transaction after you’ve logged into their site. Your financial service providers will NEVER send you an email asking for this information. If you have any doubts, stop. Don’t continue until you can verify the request.
- Secure Your Wireless Network
An open wireless network is an invitation to hackers and spammer/scammers. Always secure your wireless network with a complex password & a network name not easily associated with you. Also, be careful in sharing any personal information, including passwords, when using public wireless networks.
- Only Download Software From Reputable Sources
Downloading software only from known & trusted sources can reduce the possibility of malware being installed on your computer or mobile device. Make sure you know where any software is coming from before you download and install it.
- Review Your Bank and Credit Card Transactions Regularly
Make it a habit to regularly check your accounts for unauthorized transactions. The sooner you catch and report them, the better it is for your finances. If you are a PayPal user, keep tabs on your account there too to make sure only authorized transactions are made.
- Invest in a Shredder
Foil the dumpster divers. Shred all mail, bills, financial and medical correspondence and other documents that have personally identifying information before disposing of them. Yes, there are really thieves who will happily dig through the trash to steal your identify.
- Monitor Your Credit Profile
Part of preventing or stopping identity theft is making sure someone isn’t already using your information –and the sooner you catch it the better. You can get a Free Annual Credit Report from each of the major credit reporting agencies here. This is the official government-authorized site with no fees or other obligations.
- Create Complex Passwords
Make your passwords hard to remember and hard to crack. Using your birth date, your address, your dog’s name or your kids’ names are all easily hacked. Don’t use passwords like “password” either. Avoid using the same password for every website. If a company you do business with has a data breach, change your passwords. For more information on creating secure passwords, click here.
- Protect Your Computer
No matter how careful you are there is always the possibility of inadvertently downloading malware or a virus. Install anti-virus and malware software on your computer and scan regularly. Never open attachments in email or click on links that appear questionable, even if it’s from someone you know. If you aren’t sure, verify that they really sent it and want you to open it before proceeding.
- Be Wise On Social Media
Be careful in divulging too much personal information on your social media accounts. Popular quiz games that ask for too much personal information can be a goldmine for identity thieves. Avoid posting information that is often used to open financial accounts or verify identify, such as place and date of birth, “checking in” at banks and financial institutions, or posting vacation plans, including dates you’ll be away in advance of your trip.
Following these simple guidelines can go a long way to stop identity thieves from spoiling your holiday—and your life. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right or feels off, stop the transaction and find another, more secure way to do what you want. If you need additional resources for identity theft protection for you or for your company, send Roper Insurance a message today, using the Contact Us button at the top of this page. We are happy to help you stop identity thieves and secure your present—and your future.