Cyber criminals want to be the Grinch in your Whoville this holiday season.
These scammers, with hearts that are obviously two sizes too small, want to steal credit card information, Social Security numbers and more from the millions of Americans who plan to shop online this month.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help keep your identity and other sensitive financial information safe from these crooks when you buy online. It won’t make any hearts grow, but this advice from the experts at Experian could prevent your bank accounts and credit scores from shrinking due to fraud.
1. Only shop on websites with “https” in the address field. The “s” in this acronym means the website is secure and communications on it are encrypted.
2. You can’t be held accountable for more than $50 in fraudulent credit card purchases, according to federal law. Debit cards do not offer the same level of protection, so you may want to shop with a credit card.
3. If a deal seems too good to be true, it might be. Think twice before you click an email offering an exorbitant discount, especially if you don’t recognize the sender.
4. Don’t shop on public Wi-Fi networks. These are more susceptible to identity thieves. Shop on your home network instead.
5. Make sure any apps you shop on are downloaded from a reputable source like the Apple App Store or Google Play.
6. Shop on websites that ask for the three- or four-digit Card Verification Value code on the back of your card. This is an extra line of defense for you and the business because it verifies you actually have the card in front of you.
7. Download software updates on your phone or computer when prompted. These often include important security patches.
8. Sign up for identity theft protection services. These programs will monitor activity on your credit reports and help you investigate and resolve fraud.
AAA saves you time, money and worry: AAA members can sign up for free identity theft monitoring from Experian, which includes credit monitoring, email alerts and fraud resolution support. Visit AAA.com/IDTheft.