Protect Your Identity When Shopping Online for the Holidays
December 9, 2019
As more and more people do their shopping online, the chances that you will be the victim of identity theft increase.
In 2018, 14.4 million Americans were victims of online identity theft, affecting 5.5% of all consumers in the U.S., according to the "2019 Identity Fraud Study" by Javelin.
Do all you can to protect your identity and credit card information when shopping online. The data security website Safer Networking Ltd. recommends that you minimize your risks by taking these steps:
- Use secure websites when shopping. Those are the ones that start with //https: The "s" means that the site uses a secure socket layer. If you use a site that starts with //http:, you put your data at risk.
- Use trusted payment mechanisms. That includes methods like PayPal, which help you make secure purchases and make it easy to get your money back if there is a problem.
- Shop on trustworthy websites. If you are on a site you haven't shopped on before, check its merchant ratings.
- Use adblocker software. This is really important to keep websites from infecting your computer with malicious code. The threat is not limited to ads on shady or poorly run websites, as reputable sites can also unknowingly be the source.
- Avoid third-party apps on your phone. Only install applications that you can download from the Android Google Play or iTunes app stores. Downloading from other sources can lead to your data being hacked, particularly if you have to enter credit card information on the app.
- Don't click easily. Phishing attacks increase during the holidays. Don't open e-mails from unknown sources, and especially don't click on links embedded in them.
- Monitor your credit accounts. Take advantage of your financial institution's credit-monitoring services or fraud alerts to notify you when your information has been accessed or an unusual charge has been made to your account.
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