Home > Identity Theft > Should Data Breaches Scare You Away From Online Shopping?

Comments 1 Comment

After the recent data breaches of high-profile companies, it seems many shoppers view online shopping as more risky. A new USA Today poll says that 24% of Americans have curbed their buying online because of these recent incidents. Unfortunately, even if you’re a careful online shopper (or even a careful in-store shopper), you’re not guaranteed to be 100% protected from identity theft or credit card fraud. So what can consumers do?

Should You Stop Shopping Online?

You don’t have to stop shopping online, but shopping smartly can help reduce your risk, and there are many ways you can do that. Whenever possible, use a credit card because credit cards typically offer better fraud protections than debit cards. Store your credit card information with as few retailers as possible. And it can help to shop with major online retailers that you absolutely know are reputable, though that’s not always a guarantee that your information won’t get stolen. That’s why you can’t just stop there when it comes to protecting yourself.

How to Protect Yourself

1. Change Passwords

Whether you do it once a month, once a quarter, on your dog’s birthday or whatever, take a couple hours and change your passwords, including shopping websites you frequent and your banking and credit card institution websites. It’s a good practice to reduce your risk of having your account hacked into and your information stolen. Of course, you should also change your password for a site if it’s been breached. And as tempting as it may be, don’t re-use passwords across sites, because if one gets hacked, your other accounts with the same passwords could be at risk for getting hacked, too. There are various methods to creating a great strong password, so it’s a good idea to use them.

2. Look at Bank and Credit Card Statements

Check all statements that you receive from banking, credit card and online payment institutions for any suspicious activity or errors. Regularly monitor your accounts, and report anything suspicious right away. Remember that credit card companies will not hold you accountable for fraudulent charges if your credit card information has been stolen, but you need to notify them of it — and the sooner, the better.

3. Regularly View Your Credit Reports and Credit Scores

Consumers are entitled to their free credit reports once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies through AnnualCreditReport.com, so it’s a good idea to take advantage of that. However, you may want to check your reports more often if you’ve been a victim of identity theft before. When you check your credit reports for signs of identity theft, you’re looking to make sure that all accounts listed are correct, and that there are no collection accounts for debts you did not accrue. If you monitor your credit scores regularly, and see a significant and unexpected drop in your scores, that should prompt you to check your credit reports for any problems, including identity theft. You can monitor two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com.

4. Consider Credit Monitoring and Identity Theft Insurance

Further reduce your risk of identity theft or credit card fraud by asking your insurance company about identity theft insurance. Many homeowners or renters policies can have identity theft insurance added to them for a nominal charge. Some may automatically include it. And if your information was stolen in a data breach, you may be offered free credit monitoring by the company that was breached. You can also sign up for the service separately on your own for a fee.

The bottom line: No matter what we do, we cannot be totally immune from the risk of having our credit card numbers or identity stolen. We can still enjoy the conveniences of our modern digital world, like shopping in our pajamas. We just need to be smart about it, and always keep an eye on our financial accounts and our credit reports and credit scores to stop any theft in its tracks.

More on Identity Theft:

Image: Hemera Technologies

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • http://www.mage-world.com/magento-ajax-cart-extension.html Christine Tran

    It’s great article. Thanks for sharing

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team