Along with all the eggnog and caroling, the holidays are a time to spend with your loved ones and bring in the new year with cheer. Besides watching reruns of, A Christmas Story, the holidays can also be stressful and distracting to ensure everything is finished on-time. So while you’re frantically shopping during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, protect your identity by following our five simple steps.
Two of the most common sources of identity theft are credit card statements and the purchase/bank transaction receipt. We mindlessly throw these away, but to a potential identity thief they are gold – almost literally. These receipts contain codes that indicate the store the purchase was made at to the company that processes their credit card payments which can be used to easily phish for credit card information.
The method of obtaining your personal information has evolved to the point where an identity thief doesn’t even have to swipe or look at your cards at all. Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is a technology used to track sensitive data in many of our cards that can be scanned without even removing your wallet from your purse or pocket. Even before RFID existed, counterfeit readers existed that could pull or delete data from your cards simply by walking close to your wallet. RFID-blocking wallets, sleeves, or clutches exist to counteract this problem. Many products will have a “faraday cage” and the specification it must have is, “electromagnetically opaque.” Not all wallets are created equal so finding the right RFID wallet that has the proper protection is key.
Monitor Credit Score and History
Since credit card fraud and identity theft can happen to anyone, it is critical to monitor your statements and credit card bills daily. Be sure there are no irregularities and inaccuracies in your statements. Credit report bureaus, like Credit Karma and Equifax, can provide you free and low-cost credit reports.
Avoid Public Computers
Never log into a public computer or network to access your banking information. Even if you are corresponding with your bank through your personal email, it can be intercepted while on a public network. Unless you are on your own private secured network, only communicate directly with your bank through their approved mobile application, telephone or visit a branch directly.
The most obvious solution to avoid identity theft is to use cash only while shopping. If you do want to shop online, we recommend using a service like PayPal because sellers are never given access to your credit card number or any banking information.
With the Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, ensure you’re protected against identity theft and fraud by following our five simple steps to success. For further information regarding online shopping or cyber security, please see the following Computer Troubleshooters Blogs: