Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping Safety Tips – Protect Your Identity and Credit

Many will be out lapping up the deals come Friday, before even getting to the leftover turkey. Others will be jumping in on the Cyber Monday online shopping frenzy that will follow. I’m more inclined to be a part of that second group, lines and crowds are not for me.  Just know however that anytime this volume of financial activity takes place, criminals are looking at these situations as opportunities.  Opportunities to take advantage of people that are less than aware of proper security, opportunities where convenience maintains an edge over the most secure transaction.  The threat can come from anywhere.   The scariest threat are people from the outside, using card readers, snooping on electronic traffic, and a whole host of other tactics to gain financial or personal information.   The threat can also come from people on the inside, somewhere along the line from the time you enter a transaction, or interception right at the point of sale.   The point is it makes sense to take a few online and brick-and-mortar safety precautions when going out and starting your shopping ventures.

Today’s shoppers will be leaning more than ever on shopping from mobile devices, with high-powered smartphones and always connected tablets, the introduction of this dynamic has brought forward a slew of security measures. Let’s start however with some obvious card transaction safety info.  Giving your card over to that person in the store sure seems secure, after all you’re looking at them eye-to-eye, but that is not necessarily safe.  That is why many machines now have you swipe your own card, to avoid a double-swipe where the second captures your information for someone else to use.

  • Don’t give out your account number, especially over the phone unless you were the person to make the call.
  • Use a card that has security features, like photo ID
  • Save your receipts, and verify they true up with card statements
  • In case you have to report a card lost or stolen, keep a record of your cards with contact numbers in a safe location that is not with you.
  • Watch what the cashier does with your card if you are in fact handing it over.
  • Carry the minimum amount of cards when shopping
  • If you are using a debit card, choose the credit card option when possible, if your PIN is intercepted that adds a whole extra set of information that a thief could use.
  • It’s up to you whether you choose to show your ID when making a purchase.  But pay attention, technically Visa and Mastercard do not require this as long as the back of the card is signed.

Online shopping is bigger than ever before. Statistics report that 2011 Cyber Monday purchases set an all-time record of $1.25 billion. Projections for this year indicate a remarkable increase in that figure is expected.  It is also a reality that with an explosion of portable devices, a good deal of sales transactions will begin there.  That is a lot of transactions and lots of potential for fraud and identity theft. Millions of people are affected by identity theft every year. That can be a very significant event in a person’s life as correcting this type of problem is very difficult and time consuming. To that point, AVG Technologies has released their top five tips for online shopping. Online shopping can be done safely if you follow these steps.

  • Use only one card for all online purchases. Ensure it’s one with a very low monthly balance of $500 or less and that has fraud protection. In addition, also monitor your statements on a regular basis, monthly at a minimum.
  • Avoid making purchases or transmitting info over public Wi-Fi networks, as they can offer hackers easy access to data
  • Equip mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones with access passwords and remote locking or wiping capabilities in the event they are lost or stolen
  • Shop only from trusted brand-name merchants who use SSL protocol
  • Install a simple-to-use, 100% free but highly effective security solution.

 

About John Casaretto

SiliconANGLE's CyberSecurity Editor - Have a story tip or feedback? Please reach out to me! Security is as critical as ever and our mission is to uncover those stories that will help our industry be more secure.