Cool brisk air, the smell of pine as I decorate the tree, and the merriment coming from my family...tis the holiday season! I love the holidays, gift giving, and enjoying the greatest time of the year for me, Black Friday. The thrill of hitting the stores at dawn and staying out until the wee hours of the morning with friends is a tradition in my family. Amidst all the chaos and hustling during this ever-wonderful time, I constantly remain aware of the probability of theft for personal belongings and information. Last year alone, it was reported that roughly 15 million consumers were victims of identity theft. When placing this into perspective, this statistic is based on official police reports made by victims, therefore we can conclude this may be even higher.
Pondering over my personal experience this past Black Friday, while standing in line waiting for the person in front of me to complete their purchase I noticed something quite alarming. Once the cashier completed their items, the total was a hefty $2,000.00 dollar's worth of merchandise. This wasn’t the kicker, although it gave me a bit of a heart attack as I suffer from S.S.S or Student Sticker Shock, as I like to call it (working on adding it to WebMD, ha!). Now, as they began to pay, I noticed they were entering their Social Security number on the pin pad. I glanced at my watch, it was 2 am and although I am at limited brain capacity from my long shopping haul, I just watched thinking about the chances of this person being compromised because he casually entered his personal identification number into an electronic system without even blinking.
As we recently heard in the news of the high-profile data breaches, such as the Equifax breach, this moment demonstrated the lack of security awareness this holiday season and brought me to compile a list of tips shoppers can use to protect themselves. As mentioned in one of my many courses, “You can’t be too paranoid about security.”
ROCKY'S SEASON TO BE SECURE: SHOPPER SAFTEY TIPS
Cover the Transaction Pad when Completing Purchase
Pretend that someone is reading over your shoulder, just like in grade school, no copying!
Monitor All Bank and Credit Card Accounts
Quicky glance at your information before, after and during shopping.
Download your personal bank or credit card apps.
Always obtain a hard receipt to track purchases!
Exercise Caution Connecting to Unfamiliar Networks
Starbucks free internet is great but all it takes is a person with a little IOT device to steal your information the second you connect.
Turn off the internet and use data services briefly when checking personal information, this includes accessing your work network when working from home or a Starbucks location
Minimize Employee Online Shopping to Avoid Phishing Attempts
We know Amazon is having an amazing sale but phishing attempts lead to data breaches and can be in the form of sales deals, receipts or shopping alerts; limiting this activity during work hours can help prevent the organizations from such attacks.
And that is it folks! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and remember to use some of these tips to ward off potential cyber Grinche's!
Happy Holidays from Rocky!