Another holiday season is here, bringing new ways for cyber-thieves to attempt to steal your money or identity. The FBI and other experts offer ways you can guard yourself against identity theft by following safe practices when shopping online.
- Have up-to-date virus protection on your computer that scans for malware.
- Before you enter credit card information at a retailer's website, check to make sure the website is secure. A secure website normally has "https" in its URL and a lock icon next to the URL address.
- Consider designating a credit card account - or purchasing a re-loadable prepaid card - exclusively for online or holiday shopping, and then leave the rest of your credit cards at home. That way, if a thief does get your credit card or credit card number, the loss will be minimized.
- Create a good password. The National Privacy Rights Clearinghouse offers tips on creating a harder-to-hack password.
- If you buy something at an auction site or via an online classified ad, keep your personal information secure by paying with a third-party service like Google Pay or Apple Pay.
- Purchase gift cards directly from retailers or merchants. Gift cards from auction sites or classified ads could be fraudulent or stolen.
- Never follow a link in an email unless you know and trust the sender. Instead of using the link, enter the web address of the retailer, bank or credit card issuer yourself.
- Only open email attachments if you know the sender, and scan them for viruses if you can. Attachments can contain viruses.
- Be wary of anyone soliciting donations by phone, especially if they claim there is an emergency or deadline for donations. If you are suspicious, ask them to mail you a donation form, or hang up and call the charity directly.
There's always a lot to be done during the holidays. By exercising some care and common sense, you can help ensure you're not spending valuable time dealing with identity theft.