November 06, 2018

Holiday Shopping: How to Prevent Identity Theft Online and In-Store

Can’t wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to start?   

While it’s fun to start making plans about gifts you want to buy, be warned that fake companies, scammers, and identity thieves are also gearing up for the holidays, so it's important to be prepared for shopping fraud risks.

Tips for Preventing Identity Theft this Holiday Season

In-Store Shopping Data Security Tips

According to research, the average American spends about $1000 on holiday gifts. Criminals target busy, sales-focused shoppers in stores and malls.

  • Keep your wallet and ID in a hard-to-reach spot (an inside coat or purse pocket).
  • Before purchasing gift cards, check the back to make sure the activation code area hasn't been compromised.
  • Watch for visual hackers who look over your shoulder at the check-out. Always protect your PIN number.   
  • Check for fraudulent card-skimming devices attached to ATM machines and other payment processing machines. Don’t use the machine if anything seems unusual.
  • Make sure all devices you carry are locked with strong passwords and touch ID features. If they’re lost or stolen, the security measures will help.
  • Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use. Criminals look for devices with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth turned on so they can track your movements while you are within range.

How to Avoid Identity Theft Online

A recent report showed that this year, mobile devices would lead holiday shopping traffic (68%) and purchases (46%) – of course, scammers know it too.

  • Use strong passwords on all accounts and credit cards (the first letter of each word in a phase creates a strong password). Don’t use the same password on multiple accounts.
  • Shop at websites you already trust. Look for 'https' in the address bar (the 's' means the site is secure).
  • Be extra careful when shopping on the small screen of a smartphone. Abbreviated URLs can be misleading and lead to phishing scams.
  • Look for reviews – they are another sign that websites are safe. Scammers usually don’t get reviews.
  • Ignore third party listings on websites – they’re usually scams. Any price or deal that seems too good to be true probably is.
  • Avoid making a purchase over public or open Wi-Fi. Criminals can intercept you.

Helpful Data Security Reminders

Here are other ways to keep holiday shopping safe and secure.  

  • Check credit and bank statements regularly for fraudulent charges.
  • Avoid social media shopping scams. A scammer often sends a message that looks like it comes from the social media service itself, but links in the message go to fake pages.
  • Avoid email scams. Instead of clicking an ad in your inbox, go to the actual retailer’s website.
  • Ensure that holiday e-cards are legitimate. Look for a confirmation code, and open the e-card at the issuing website. 
  • Beware of email messages that claim a package delivery failed, or require confirmation of an order or shipment. These are popular scams during the holiday shopping season.
  • Securely destroy paper documents that contain confidential information (greeting card envelopes, bank statements, etc.).

Start Protecting Your Business

To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment.