With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just a few days away, the risk of identity theft will be on the rise. This holiday season, you can be a savvy shopper and protect yourself by following a few simple rules.
Rule #1: Don’t use a debit card, and use only one credit card. If your debit card gets hacked, the thieves may be able to access your bank account. But if you use just one credit card for online shopping, you’ll just have one card to cancel if your card number is compromised. (It would also be wise to keep a low credit limit on that particular card.)
Rule #2: Look for the “https://” before you enter personal information. When you see that (look for the “s”), it should indicate that you are transmitting data within a secure site. Depending on your browser, you may also see a padlock symbol at the bottom of the browser window.
Rule #3: Watch what you click – and watch out for fake sites. Pop-ups, attachments from mysterious sources, dubious links – don’t be tempted to explore where they lead. Hackers have created all manner of “phishing” sites and online surveys – seemingly legitimate, but set up to siphon your information. It is better to be skeptical.
Rule #4: Protect your PC. When did you install the security and firewall programs on your computer? Have you updated them recently?
Rule #5: Change stored passwords frequently – and make them really obscure. It is a good idea to change or update your passwords once in a while. Mix letters and numbers, and use an uppercase letter if possible. And never use “password” as your password!
Rule #6: Don’t shop using an unsecured wi-fi connection. You are really leaving yourself open to identity theft when shop using public wi-fi. Put away the laptop and wait until you leave that coffee shop or airport terminal. Yes, hackers can tap into your Smartphone via the same tactics by which they can invade your PC.
Stay smart this holiday season and happy shopping!
Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women. As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com.