According to the credit bureau Experian, 43 percent of online-shopping identity theft in 2018 occurred during the holiday season. Digging out from identity theft — financially and emotionally — can be a nightmare. Here are some ways to shop online more safely.
- Steer clear of public Wi-Fi. It’s easy for hackers to intercept personal data you send and receive. If you insist, install a VPN (virtual private network) on your device, which encrypts information to befuddle wouldbe cyberthieves.
- Create strong, unique passwords. Use at least 10 characters with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols; avoid incorporating personal information (e.g., birth dates, kids’ names, etc.); don’t use the same password for multiple accounts; and utilize a password manager app to store and secure passwords.
- Only shop on SSL-certified online shopping sites, which are identified by the “https” in their web addresses (the “s” stands for “secure”) and the lock symbol in the address bar. These sites employ encryption to safeguard your information.
- Download mobile shopping apps from reputable stores only, such as Google Play, the App Store, the Amazon App Store, and Galaxy Apps. Unfamiliar apps may contain malicious software.
- Beware of phishing emails/texts from unknown senders with special offers too good to be true. Don’t click on links, and don’t open attachments — viruses, fake websites, etc.
- Closely monitor all financial accounts, and sign up for email/text alerts.
Victims of identity theft should immediately contact the credit bureaus Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian; creditors (credit card providers, utilities, cable company, etc.); financial institutions; and law enforcement officials.
Protect Yourself Online
Tracking down identity thieves can be challenging, but third parties may have been negligent by failing to properly protect personal information. If you fall prey to identity theft, contact our office for guidance at (404) 474-0804 or fill out a form here.