This is one of those times of the year when shopping is expected to increase due to the upcoming festivities, and for many of us short on time, that shopping may happen online.
Seasoned online shoppers are probably aware of some dangerous corners of the world wide web to avoid, and some predators to look out for – but if our experiences with room rental scams have taught us anything, it is that scammers sometimes go to great lengths to appear legitimate.
So for the sake of your credit score, we invited CTOS to list some ways of protecting your identity when shopping online.
What is Identity Theft?
Before the existence of the internet, identity theft entailed painstakingly learning the history and habits of a targeted individual to gain access to finances or impersonate someone in negotiations involving large sums of money.
After the birth of the internet, the process underwent significant changes to become one of setting out a net and harvesting the identities of those who fell in it. With nearly every living person on the planet relying on the internet in order to conduct transactions necessary for daily life, the process of harvesting identities and the potential payoffs have become more accessible.
1. Pick familiar and verified websites
Shop on trustworthy and reputable websites that have a good security track record. When in doubt, do some research, but bear in mind that not all reviews may be genuine.
Identity thieves occasionally “phish” for victims using a duplicated website mirroring the original in order to lure people into giving up vital information. Be wary of websites that appear cobbled together in a hurry or seem to deviate from the corporation’s standard look and feel.
2. Use separate and strong passwords
It may seem convenient but don’t use the same password for different websites. Once one password has been discovered, all other passwords would be compromised as well.
Make sure all your passwords are strong and unique to reduce the chances of anyone else being able to crack them.
3. Don’t share unnecessary personal information
Some online retailers may ask for your birthday to be able to better tailor their services to you, or perhaps offer you birthday specials. However, if hackers gain access to this data, they’ll have personal information about you that could be used to impersonate you online.
Be aware of the security questions that you set, or that banks require to confirm your identity, and avoid revealing to other parties any details in response to those questions.
4. Always ensure that your digital device is protected
Whether you’re using a laptop, smartphone, or some other device to get online, make sure that you have some form of anti-malware in place. This will help protect you against a variety of online security threats.
At home, ensure that sure your internet router is password-protected and do not share the password. Don’t rely on the default password that came with your router either – that information is readily available online and your internet gateway could be compromised without anyone setting foot in your home.
5. Check your credit report regularly
Checking your full MyCTOS Score report can quickly alert you to identity theft.
For instance, if you notice new loans or credit cards you didn’t apply for, it’s a sign that someone may have stolen your information and that you’ll need to investigate further.