According to the Insurance Information Institute, 16.7 million U.S. consumers had their identities stolen in 2017. That’s a four million increase in just two years. The cost of these thefts reached nearly $17 billion, resulting in an average loss of more than $1,000 per incident. Plus, one million of these breaches affected those you might consider unlikely victims: children.*
With this activity on the rise and with so much at stake, here are some simple practices to help you stay protected against cyber fraud.
While shopping at a store
- Keep your Social Security…secure – Only give out your Social Security Number when absolutely necessary and required. Don’t carry your card in your wallet.
- Protect your PIN – Never write a PIN on a credit/debit card or on a slip of paper kept in your wallet.
- Watch out for “shoulder surfers” – Use your free hand to shield the keypad when using checkout keypads and ATMs.
- Don’t leave your credit card visible for extended time – Identity thieves can quickly write down your card number, or may even try to take pictures of it with their mobile devices
- Keep your receipts – Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
When shopping online
- Think before you act – Be wary of emails that offer deals that sound too good to be true, and implore you to act immediately.
- When in doubt, throw it out – If an email looks suspicious, it’s best to simply delete it or mark it as junk, and do not reply.
- Make sure the websites you visit are legitimate – This includes a closed padlock on your web browser or a URL address that begins with shttp or https.
- Protect your personal information – Make sure the information requested of you is limited to only what is needed to complete the transaction.
- Keep a clean machine – All the devices you use for shopping—including smartphones and tablets—should have up-to-date software including security software, operating systems, programs and apps.
- Be savvy about WiFi hotspots – Don’t share personal or financial information over an unsecured WiFi network, which could be a haven for ID thieves. Secure networks require a password for access.
- Keep a paper trail – Save records of your online transactions. Read your credit card statements as soon as you get them and, if there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.