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It’s almost that time of year again! The two busiest shopping days of the year are upon us, and while you’re out looking for the best deals, identity thieves are just as busy trying to steal your financial information. To help yourself stay secure, keep the following tips in mind while shopping both online or in store this holiday season:
- Use a secure payment method such as PayPal or a credit card that is separate from your primary bank account whenever possible.
- When you purchase something online, always make sure that the checkout process is secure. Look for a yellow padlock in the browser bar as well as “HTTPS” at the beginning of the website (as compared to “HTTP” with no “S” at the end, which stands for “Secure”).
- Don’t make online purchases while using public WiFi connections, such as restaurant or mall hotspots. Anyone can connect to them and data transferred over them is typically unsecure, which makes them prime targets for identity thieves and hackers. Instead only use your home WiFi or your cellular data network.
- Watch cashiers for skimming, which is when your card is swiped once at the register and again through a hand-held scanner the size of a cigarette lighter. Most registers allow you to swipe your card yourself; if a cashier asks to swipe your card by hand and turns away or puts both hands out of your sight while holding your card, ask to see a manager.
- Review your credit card and bank statements to ensure that there are no unusual or fraudulent transactions. If you identify any suspicious activity, contact the appropriate financial institution immediately to address any accounts that may have been compromised.