Are you prepared for the holiday season? Holiday shopping usually provides the best deals; however, the increased shopping volume presents more opportunities for identity theft.
When shopping in stores, keep these tips in mind:
Protect your debit card number and PIN. Keep your wallet and purse secure on your body and shield your PIN from roving eyes when using your debit card at the register.
Beware of possible skimmers when using an ATM. ATMs at malls and major shopping centers are targets for skimming devices around the holidays.
Buy gift cards from behind a customer service desk only, guarding against the possibility of buying a stripped gift card that has no value.
Shopping online brings a whole new risk to consumers.
Make sure your computer is secure, with up-to-date anti-virus/anti-spyware software and browser versions.
Secure your transactions. Look for a closed padlock icon on the bottom of your computer screen, and a web address beginning with "https://".
Stick to familiar, trusted websites or check out unknown merchants with the Better Business Bureau.
Don't shop online using public computers, public wireless connections, or your cell phone.
Be careful when you click. Don't click on links in suspicious emails and ignore pop-up messages. It's always safest to go to the website on your own.
Keep your personal data safe. Review the privacy policies of websites you do business with so you'll know how they use your data.
Opt out of storing your shipping address, credit card number, etc. with online retailers.
Never send financial or personal information in an email or provide it in an email link.
Remember to review your bank statements carefully for unauthorized transactions and report any suspicious activity to your financial institution right away to limit your liability.
Be careful out there!