Originally published by Identity Theft 911
True. Cyber crime now impacts more than 50,000 people an hour. That’s three times more than the 15,300 babies born hourly.
It’s a scary statistic, and one worth noting as the holiday shopping season approaches. As more shoppers turn to their laptop, iPads and mobile phones to get items crossed off their list, thieves are on the prowl to hack into systems to obtain customer information—email addresses, passwords, credit card data, PayPal account info, etc.
And worse, a recent Verizon study finds that nearly 80 percent of retailers in the U.S. do not comply with PCI (payment card industry) regulations, leaving consumers particularly vulnerable to data theft.
The FTC reports that a disproportionate number of scams, fraud and identity theft related incidents occur during the holiday rush*. But consumers can thwart the identity Grinch that wants to steal Christmas!
[Article: 5 Smart Spending Strategies for Cyber Monday]
Stay safe this season with these online tips:
Secure shopping online
- Use credit cards not debit cards if possible as credit cards offer greater liability protection.
- Designate one credit card for online purchases, or used a pre-paid or “one-time” virtual credit card number.
- Secure mobile phones used for shopping. Back them up regularly and enable security features such as password and inactivity time lock and if available, enable data encryption and antivirus applications.
- Be cautious when shopping on the go; don’t reveal private financial data over shared wireless access points such as at coffee shops.
- Never give a credit card number over the phone unless you have initiated the transaction and know the company is trustworthy.
- Never link a bank account to an online pay service such as PayPal. Hackers could break into the PayPal account and drain money from the linked bank account.
- Protect your computer with the latest browser, antivirus, anti-malware, and personal firewall protection, and update regularly.
- Look for a secure checkout, one that displays “https” or a padlock in your browser address bar.
- Be aware of phishing email scams that include website links advertising incredible deals.
- Leave suspicious websites immediately. Don’t click on any of the site’s buttons or download software.
- Check your bank and credit card accounts frequently to make sure each transaction is yours.
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Safe surfing social networks
Letting internet prowlers know you’ll be battling holiday traffic and long retail lines for the next several hours doesn’t just say that you’re a fearless shopper; it also says “I won’t be home for an extended period of time today”, and “tonight, my house will full of presents!”
- Keep a low social media profile during the holidays.
- Maintain the latest privacy settings on every social network you use.
- Ring in the holidays with close friends and family—not virtual friends or those you’ve never met.
- Never post your whereabouts when you’re shopping, dining or traveling.
- Don’t forget the kids! Make sure they aren’t alerting thieves to your empty house, either!
*Federal Trade Commission 2011
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More from Identity Theft 911:
- Google Yourself: Ego-Surfing Can Help Protect Your Identity
- The Credit Score Ripple Effect on Your Identity
- Teen Tips for Safe Surfing
A version of this article originally appeared on Identity Theft 911 on Nov. 21, 2011.