Nearly Three-Quarters of Americans are Worried About Holiday Identity Theft
One-third of shoppers plan to do most or all of their holiday shopping online, and 71% of these shoppers are worried about identity theft, according to a recent study commissioned by LifeLock.
Sadly, Americans now rank protecting their identity ahead of enjoying some holiday traditions. 49% said they would pass on gifts this season if it meant their identity wouldn’t be stolen, and when asked what would likely ruin their holiday, 50% of respondents said it would be having their identity stolen. Fewer people were worried about not being able to share the holidays with their family and friends (22%) and not being able to afford presents (17%).
Here are five actions to take to help avoid identity theft this holiday season:
- Think twice before giving out your personal information to receive promotions, and do not save your credit card information on a retailer’s website, just in case it gets breached. Do not order merchandise from a promotional email you receive, even if it looks like it is from the retailer. You can sometimes identify a fake link because it will have one or two letters missing or changed. These are usually phishing scams, designed to trick you into entering your personal information, including credit card number or email address and password, into a legitimate-looking site.
- It is best to do all of your online shopping with brands with which you are already familiar. If you do visit a new website, look for a green locked padlock on the left side of the URL. If the website does not ask for the CVV code on the back of your card when you are checking out, do not enter your account information, as this is a red flag.
- It is best to pay with a credit card or online/mobile payment. Credit cards offer more fraud protection, and rarely hold you responsible for unauthorized transactions (beyond a $50 fee, in some cases). If a thief gets your debit card, though, they can steal every penny from your bank account, at least until an investigation is completed, which can take weeks. Apple Pay, Android Pay or PayPal are also safe ways to complete transactions online.
- Use your cellular network instead of public Wi-Fi. Whether you trust the source, it is wise not to shop via a public or unsecured Wi-Fi network, as you have no idea who else may be on it. Even a paid, password-protected Wi-Fi network is only as safe as the other people using that network. Your phone’s cellular network is much safer, even if you are using it as a hot spot for your laptop. Phones and computers are gateways to your personal information, so you will want to make sure they are password-protected.
- Monitor your accounts closely. When you are doing a lot of shopping, keep a close eye on your transaction list. You can also sign up for email and text alerts to track transactions. Finally, regularly update your account passwords.