Holiday Shopping season is an identity thief’s dream come true. Millions of people, spending millions of dollars, in thousands of stores, both in stores and online, in a condensed amount of time. It is a treasure trove of victims, ripe for the picking. This is why it is more important than ever to take special precautions when shopping both online and in stores this holiday season.
- Verify Website Security:
Any site dealing with financial transactions should use "Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security", (commonly just called SSL). When SSL/TLS is in use, a small lock icon is shown in the status/address bar. You can actually click on the icon and it will provide a security report.
Never put credit information on a site that is not https or doesn’t have the lock icon
- Type the correct URL address when accessing a website.
Once you have confirmed a secure site, put it in your favorites to access again, reducing the likelihood of a typo. Cyber criminals use Web addresses that resemble the name of a well-known company but are slightly altered by adding, omitting, or transposing letters. This is called “typo-squatting” or cyber squatting”
- Use a gift card or disposable credit card.
This will not only protect your identity but also reduce your financial risk to only the funds available on the gift or prepaid card.
- Beware of ‘shoulder surfers”
When shopping in a store, or getting money out of an ATM. Identity thieves may stand close behind you to view what you are doing. Everyone now has a cell phone camera. They can take a picture of your card, or a video of you typing in your pin. Protect your credit cards, driver's license and checkbook from wandering eyes.
- Never take your eyes off your credit card when you hand it over to pay.
- When heading out to the mall, only carry the credit card you will be using.
Minimize your purse. Carry cash, one or 2 credit cards, and your driver’s license. This will reduce your exposure if you are a victim of ID theft. And once again, a gift card or disposable/re-loadable credit card is always the safest bet as it is not tied to either your identity or any additional funds.