Many of us will be using smartphones and laptops for our holiday shopping. While it may be more convenient than a drive to the mall, going online presents dangers to your credit and personal data. Cyber-crooks are lurking, just waiting for a slip-up to steal your identity and get into your bank and credit card accounts. As you tap in and surf for deals, be cautious about where you go and the information you give others. It’s estimated that one-in-five Americans have been a victim of identity theft, and 43% of those had their identity stolen while shopping online during the holidays.
It’s more important than ever that you protect your personal information. Here are some important internet shopping safety tips to remember:
- Don’t open suspicious or unsolicited emails that can often take you to dangerous sites
- Shop with familiar companies, looking for the secure “https” in the URL (“S” indicating it is a secure site), and beware of copycat sites with slight misspellings
- Use strong, unique passwords for online accounts
- Avoid using debit cards and pay with a credit card for online shopping (credit cards offer the most fraud protection)
- Refrain from shopping or banking while using free or public Wi-Fi
- Be aware of fake charity, pet adoption and lonely-hearts solicitations
- Check your credit card, bank and other accounts often for suspicious or fraudulent charges
- Never send a gift card for payment (a trick many crooks use)
If you are planning on giving to a charity, you also need to take your time and do research to make sure your donation goes to a good cause. Scammers know that people’s good hearts make them easy targets for rip-offs. Remember to:
- Be skeptical of email solicitations from charities you have never heard of or supported before
- Avoid giving to any organization requesting gift cards, wiring money, or transferring funds to an overseas bank
- Realize that many social media donation sites may not be legitimate
- Seek out each charity’s authorized website (crooks often use sound-a-like sites and misspellings)
- Check the legitimacy of charities through sites such as the Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator and GuideStar
If you suspect that you have been an ID theft victim, the Federal Trade Commission recommends:
Find more ID theft protection information https://mycalcas.com/?s=cyber+crooks.
One of the many benefits that California Casualty offers with every auto and home/renters policy is free ID theft resolution services from CyberScout. Learn more at www.calcas.com/identity-theft or call 1.800.800.9410, option 3 to learn more.