Tis the season, Keepies! The holidays are here, and that means it’s time to make that list and check it twice. Whether you’ll be shopping online or braving the crowds, it’s also the time of year to be extra careful with your financial information.
This time last year, Target stores across the country were hit by malicious software that stole information from shoppers’ credit cards, estimated to have compromised upwards of 70,000 people. The breach was determined to have begun on Black Friday, when traffic at the store was highest.
Online shopping, too, sees an upswing this time of year, beginning with Cyber Monday and continuing through the holidays. A recent McAfee study showed that 56 percent of Americans plan to use their smartphones to shop online this holiday season. And, more shopping means more identity theft. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself:
- Never shop on public or unsecured WiFi networks. Your information can be easily compromised at the cafe – wait till you get home!
- Check web addresses. Look for the “https” at the beginning of the url to indicate an encrypted connection, as well as the lock icon in the address bar. Be aware of sites that don’t use the https:// protocol and be wary of any pop-ups that occur when on all major sites.
- Do not ignore web browser security warnings. Research has shown that up to 70% of users ignore browser security warnings. If you receive a security warning from your web browser when shopping online, do not simply click through to continue your shopping – something could be seriously wrong! Browser security warnings could mean that you have been directed to a phishing site or a victim of a man-in-the-middle attack.
- Monitor your bank account regularly. Catch fraudulent activity early, and make sure merchants don’t overcharge you.
- Use a Password Manager! Like Keeper.Unique passwords to all of your online accounts is your best defense against identity theft. You can also store credit card information and other data in your heavily encrypted Keeper Vault. And, you can use Keeper to do all of your shopping through the app. If we don’t recognize a website, we will not launch it – this is one of the many benefits of using a password manager and helps protect against phishing – sites that look real but are not.
For consumers shopping in stores:
- All payment cards should have “Check ID” in the signature area (back side of card). In most cases, the cashier of a responsible retailer should then ask to see the consumer’s ID to verify both the individual’s identity and signature of the shopper.
- Be mindful of shoppers around you, especially at the payment counter. This is when pickpockets and other cybercriminals steal wallets, money and cards out of open purses. This is also the main point of theft for PIN numbers when an innocent consumer is paying and they don’t cover their PIN entry area with their other hand – this allows a hacker to see their PIN codes. This is a very common method for stealing user ID information.
- Wallets should never be carried in back pockets or open purses. This may sound obvious but it accounts for millions of stolen purchase cards per year.