Avoid Identity Theft With Smart Online Shopping

Do you prefer to do all or part of your holiday shopping online? Well, you're not alone.

Online shopping continues to grow exponentially vs. traditional retail establishments.  And shopping with mobile devices is expected to grow 60%, the same increase experienced in the 2015 holiday season.

But a recent survey by Harris Poll found that 71% of online shoppers are concerned about identity theft. Are you? If so, read on for valuable tips to help keep your identity protected as you surf your favorite shopping sites. 

  • Don't save your credit card information on any retailer site. Instead, enter it each time. This will give you some protection in case the retailer experiences a security breach.
  • Watch out for email promotions that link back to a bogus retail site - you may be able to spot this by watching for spelling errors.
  • When visiting any website, even one with which you have done business before, look for an icon in the shape of a locked green padlock in the URL bar. Verify authenticity also with "https" in the web address.
  • Avoid websites that don't ask for your credit card's security code (CVV2 code) during checkout.
  • Make it a habit to pay online with a credit card. Your card issuer probably protects you from fraudulent activity. But a criminal with your debit card can quickly wipe out your entire bank balance.
  • Online or mobile payment services like Apple Pay, Android Pay or PayPal offer even more protection.
  • Never use a public or unsecured Wi-Fi for shopping or banking. Anyone could be lurking on it waiting to hack your information. It's a bit more secure to use your cellphone's network from your phone or as a hot spot for your laptop.
  • Always make sure your phones and other electronic devices are password-protected.
  • Keep an eye on your accounts. Check credit card and bank statements frequently during the holiday shopping period for unfamiliar items. You can also set up email or texting alerts to monitor transactions.
  • Update all your passwords often and make sure each is complex and unique.

If you feel that you have been the victim of a scam or identity theft, contact the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's FTC Complaint Assistant.

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