It is always important to stay alert while shopping, but the chaos of the holiday rush makes it even more crucial to keep your information protected. According to MedCareComplete, $1,049 is the average fraud amount stolen per identity theft victim. Cyber Monday and holiday shopping with online retailer websites, such as Amazon, is the perfect hunting ground for cyber thieves. Here are a few tips to keep your personal information safe this holiday season:
When shopping online, make sure you are using a secure internet connection. Do NOT use public Wi-Fi to make purchases or check your bank account. Public Wi-Fi is fine for browsing, but do not ever enter sensitive information while sipping on a peppermint latte at your local coffee shop.
Use a credit card instead of a debit card whenever possible; the same liability protections that cover credit card fraud are not always applicable to debit cards. Another circumstance to consider is the fact that someone could gain access to your checking account, which opens a whole new can of worms.
If you are using a debit card, be sure to hide your hand from noisy onlookers when typing your pin number on a key pad. You can also process a debit card as credit to avoid typing in a pin number all together, I frequently do this.
If you don’t want to use a credit card, you can purchase an AmEx or Visa gift card and load it with just enough funds to do your holiday shopping. I always do this when shopping on big sites such as Amazon or Ebay. For smaller purchases, good old-fashioned cash is always a safe bet.
If an app or website says the only form of payment accepted is a money order, check, or wire transfer, consider this a red flag to go in a different direction. In addition, beware of fake apps. Go directly to a store’s main website or the app store to ensure the legitimacy of an app, read reviews on sellers, and check buyer comments prior to making a purchase. This is also an important practice when using third party seller sites.
Do not use the same username and password for multiple online locations. If your account on one site is compromised and you are using the same login credentials for several others, you might end up with a very big problem.
Never save your credit card information or address on a website. Although it may seem easy for making several different purchases, it puts your information on a shining silver platter for hackers and other online thieves to steal.
If your bank offers the option to send alerts whenever a transaction is processed on your debit or credit card – use it! It is much easier to prevent or reverse a phony charge if you know right when it happens. Monitor your account activity on a frequent basis and act swiftly.
Of course, you can do everything by the book and still have your information compromised due to sheer bad luck. MedCareComplete offers outstanding protection for identity theft. Do not leave your information to chance.
Be safe, be smart, and happy shopping!