With the two most hectic shopping days of the year rapidly approaching, you may be preparing to nab a deal… but identity thieves are just as busy trying to nab your financial information. While you’re out looking for the best deals
online and in retail shops on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, keep these security tips in mind to protect your identity:
- Try to use a secure payment method whenever possible. This includes Paypal, pre-paid limited use debit cards, and credit cards that are separate from your primary bank account. Using a debit card that is tied to your primary bank
account is the least secure form of payment, as a security breach poses the greatest financial risk.
- When you purchase something from a small independent business online, make sure that the checkout process is a “Secure Site”. Look for a yellow padlock in the browser bar as well as “HTTPS” at the beginning of the website (as compared to “HTTP” with no “S” at the end, which stands for “Secure”).
- Make sure that your operating system and security software are up to date.
- Don’t make online purchases while using public WiFi connections, such as restaurant or mall hotspots, because these networks are prime targets for identity thieves and hackers. Shop only from trusted wireless connections such as home and cellular networks.
- Never send sensitive information such as Social Security Numbers, passwords, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers through e-mail. This is not a secure way to send sensitive information and legitimate companies will ask you to use some form of secure site to transmit the necessary information.
- When using an ATM, inspect the card reader before swiping to ensure that it isn’t fake. Lately, identity thieves have been planting card skimmers over ATM card slots in order to trick people into providing their PIN and magnetic strip information, and this technique is on the rise.
- Watch cashiers for skimming, which is when your card is swiped once at the register and again through a hand-held scanner the size of a cigarette lighter. Most registers allow you to swipe your card yourself; if a cashier asks to swipe your card by hand and turns away or puts both hands out of your sight while holding your card, ask to see a manager.
- Review your credit card and bank statements to ensure that there are no unusual or fraudulant transactions. If you identify any suspicious activity, contact the appropriate financial institution immediately to address anny accounts that may have been compromised.
We hope that keeping these security tips in mind will allow you to shop with confidence and safety during the upcoming sales events.