Identity theft and cyber crimes are becoming more frequent news stories. Unfortunately, the holiday season tends to see a peak in those crimes. In order to keep you information secure, it’s all about staying one step ahead of the criminals.
Be Wary of Email Links
Any email that asks you to click on a link and enter information about yourself should raise a red flag. During the holidays, scammers may send emails that appear to be promotions from big brand stores. They may ask you to enter your store card info for exclusive discounts and then take that information to use themselves.
To be safe, go directly to the website of the store or contact them directly.
Look for Secure Websites
If you’re shopping online, make sure the website you’re entering your credit card information on is secure. If the site is secure, you should see HTTPS in the URL and/or a padlock in the browser bar.
Don’t see these things? Best look somewhere else or call the store.
Check Online Statements
If someone has your account information, they’ll usually start by making small purchases to test the waters. Look over your transactions and make sure they’re your own.
Watch for Tampered Card Readers
Skimming crimes also increase during the holiday season. If the device you slide/insert your card in looks odd, it might have been tampered with to collect your card information. This is most common at gas stations and outdoor ATMs.
Choose Credit, Not Debit
“Debit or Credit?” is a common question you’ll hear from the cashier. It might not matter to you whether you use your card as debit or credit – it comes out of your account either way – but it does matter when it comes to the level of protection you get.
These cards are backed by big names; you’ll notice the MasterCard logo on Aspire cards. MasterCard provides additional warranties and fraud protection at no extra cost.
Apply Online for Store Cards
If you’re shopping at a particular store a lot during the holidays, you may feel a store card is worth it. If that’s the case, do it online. The paper applications ask for sensitive information and then you hand it over to the cashier. Who knows how many eyes will see that information before it gets to processing?
Beware of Public WiFi
If you’re meeting up with others for an online shopping party, do it in a secure location. Public places like coffee shops may have free WiFi, but unless you can connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) you could be vulnerable.
Limit Social Media Sharing
You know those security questions many of your accounts have? They might ask for your anniversary, pet’s name, mother’s maiden name, etc.? That’s also information someone can figure out from your Facebook profile, so try to keep that information limited.
Monitor Your Credit Report
You have free access to your credit report once a year, so use it! Look over it carefully and make sure all the accounts listed are accounts you opened.
Stay safe this holiday season!