After stuffing ourselves with turkey and cranberry sauce, many dream of losing sleep, battling crowds and racing through the aisles of Target to grab the best deals of the season. That’s right, Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) has become a much anticipated holiday tradition. In fact, the leisurely days of food coma and football are declining as now more than 174 million Americans take part in this annual retail shopping frenzy. And if you’re like the vast majority (93%) of shoppers connecting to and interacting with technology during this year’s shopping season, you can be especially vulnerable to online fraud and identity theft.
So, before you start checking everyone off your list, make sure to read our 9 tips for protecting your identity when shopping online this holiday season.
9 Tips to help protect your identity when shopping online this holiday season:
1. Batten down the hatches
Verify that the antivirus software on your device is working and has been updated.
2. S is for Secure
You can check if a website will securely transmit your personal information by verifying that the url has an “https” at the beginning. The “s” stands for “secure.” Also verify that there is a “locked” padlock before the URL. It is important to note, that while a site address starting with https encrypts your data during transmission, it does not guarantee how the site owner will use and/or manage your data.
3. Be leery of links.
Fake emails that appear to be from a trusted retailer are very common during the holidays. Thieves will pose as real retailers to get you to click on malicious content that may steal your personal information or install harmful malware on your device. Verify that the links you’re clicking are legitimate. For more information, check out our recent blog post on pharming.
4. Take cover with credit.
If a thief steals your debit card you are more vulnerable to financial loss because they have direct access to your checking account, whereas, a credit card is not directly linked to a bank account. Additionally, credit cards provide protections that debit cards do not. Under federal law, your personal liability for fraudulent charges on a credit card cannot exceed $50. But if a fraudster uses your debit card, you could be liable for $500 or more, depending on how quickly you report it.
5. Watch for counterfeit coupons.
Thieves try to entice holiday buyers by creating and sending fake coupons. Verify that the coupons you are using are legitimate and have the retailer’s exact logo. Beware that social media links for alleged “coupons” could connect you to a phishing site or install malware on your device.
6. Protect your passwords.
It’s crucial that you never reuse a password across accounts. It’s also important that you create passwords that can not be easily guessed (stay away from creating passwords that use easily guessed personal details such as birthdays, graduation years, pet names, etc.). So how does one remember so many different passwords? Consider using a digital Password Manager (such as LastPass or 1Password) to help you generate long, random and unique passwords as well as assist you with storing them in a secure spot.
7. Research 3rd party payment systems.
Unlike regular online transactions, payments made through Apple Pay or Google Pay don’t use your real credit card number, so vendors never get access to it. These services make use of a technology called payment tokenization, which converts your credit card number into a cryptogram that’s worthless to hackers. Ordinarily, hackers just need your credit card number, CVV, and expiration date to commit fraud, and those are a lot easier to come by.
8. Statements Matter.
Be aware of the purchases you make and keep track of them on your credit statements. During the rush of the holiday season, it can be easy to let one or two transactions slip by that you never made. If you see a transaction that you do not recognize, be sure to call your credit card company or bank right away.
9. Veil your identity with a VPN
Using a VPN when browsing online can help you mask your internet activity and secure your personal information. All of your information and activity is known to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) because of your IP address. By changing your IP address, you can mask your internet activity. A VPN lets you do this.
What to do if you’re a victim of Identity Theft
Contact iLOCK360. As an iLOCK360 paid subscriber, our certified U.S.-based Identity Theft Restoration Specialists will work on your behalf to restore your good name. A Specialist assigned to your individual case will guide you through each step of the restoration process and ensure that your case is handled with care. With your consent, the Restoration Specialist can help you with closing accounts, re-ordering cards, placing a fraud alert with each of the three credit bureaus, and removing fraudulent activity from your credit report. Restoration Specialists offer robust case knowledge in both credit and non-credit fraud situations. Our dependable identity restoration services will reduce the time and effort you’ll spend restoring your good name.
Call 855-287-8888 to speak with an Identity Theft Restoration Specialist.
How Else Can iLOCK360 Help?
Did you know that your iLOCK360 membership can help alert you if your personal information may have been bought or sold by hackers online?
iLOCK360’s proprietary CyberAlert can help you monitor your identity 24/7/365 for possible compromise on the Dark Web (i.e. the anonymous online marketplace where illicit activities occur). If your monitored information is found bought or sold online you will be automatically alerted so that action may be taken to address the issue.
CyberAlert’s available monitored features include: Bank Accounts, Credit/Debit Cards, Email Addresses, Phone Numbers, Medical ID Numbers, Social Security Number, Driver’s License and Passport.
Want to know if your information may have been compromised by a cybercriminal on the Dark Web? Be sure to log into your iLOCK360 account to setup this feature today.