If you thought your biggest worry during the holiday shopping season was finding the perfect present at the lowest price, think again. While the focus may be on the competitive shopping people do once Thanksgiving is over, you don’t want to forget that identify theft is a real issue at this time of year.
Take a look at these shopping tips to avoid identity theft and security issues on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the holiday season.
Once you’ve stuffed yourself with turkey, taken a nap, and clipped your coupons (or saved them on your phone), you’re ready to figure out the best strategy to take advantage of all the deals. You also need a strategy to keep yourself and your bank account safe.
- Keep all of your receipts together in one place. Once the shopping weekend is over, check each receipt total against your online bank records to make sure they match up. Immediately report any problems.
- Beware of shoulder surfers. While standing in line at the checkout, don’t jump on your phone to check your bank account balance. Dishonest shoulder surfers, people looking over your shoulder to see what you’re doing, could be recording your finger movements to gain access to your accounts later.
- Skip the free wi-fi while you’re out. Hackers can gain access to legitimate free internet or they may set up a fake option. Either way, once you’re on, they’re tracking your every online move, and recording your ID and passwords to all the accounts you checked and websites you visited.
- Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are real. We may focus on the cyber issues, but people looking to steal your wallet still exist. You might think you’re being bumped into because of the crowd and really, they’re taking your stuff and running. Instead, keep the bare minimum you need with you and try to keep your credit card and ID in a front pocket.
Cyber Monday is all about the online deals which means your chances of online identity theft go up.
- Watch out for suspicious emails. Your bank, credit card company, and favorite retailer will not send you an email asking for your account information. Don’t click on suspicious looking links and definitely don’t open any attachments that you weren’t expecting to receive. Hackers use these to add malware and viruses to your computer to track everything you do.
- Beware of scam websites. If you’re shopping at a site you’ve never heard of, take a few minutes to Google the name of the company or the website address and add “scams” or “reviews” to the search. If there’s been any problems, you’ll find it before you place your order instead of after.
- Don’t be fooled by scam shipping emails. Identity thieves know that this is the time of year when you’re going to get multiple emails about your orders being shipped. If you get an email that looks like it’s from FedEx, UPS, or the USPS and says there’s a “problem” with your shipment, be suspicious. Track your packages by going directly to the shipper’s website, and use the online store website for any inquiries about your order.
Identity theft can be devastating - stealing your money, ruining your credit, and causing turmoil in your life. Take precautions while you’re shopping this holiday season to keep yourself and your identity safe.