Here is some great holiday safety advice from Crime Watch partner Kelly Starling of AT&T:
With the holiday season upon us, your debit and credit cards may be getting more use than normal — both online and off. That makes you more susceptible to identity theft during the holidays.
According to a new Deloitte holiday survey, shoppers plan to spend 51 percent of their budget online — using smartphones, computers and social media — compared to 42 percent in-store. Also, a 2016 Deloitte holiday survey found 78 percent of Americans use their smartphones for holiday shopping.
Whether shopping online or in-store using your device, AT&T offers these seven tips to avoid falling victim to a Grinch:
▪ Don’t shop online using a public Wi-Fi network. When it comes to online shopping — or any activity that requires you to share sensitive personal information — avoid doing it on a public network. Public Wi-Fi networks are often unencrypted and unsecured, leaving you vulnerable to hackers and malware.
▪ Shop carefully. Even when shopping online via a secured network, whether on your smartphone, tablet or computer, double-check that you’re on the correct website or app. Thieves can clone websites, so before you check out or enter your credit card information, make sure there is a “lock” symbol on the left side of the URL, which confirms it’s a secure site.
▪ Guard your mobile device. Considering how many times you pull out your mobile device while holiday shopping, you’re at greater risk of leaving it laying somewhere. In order to prevent unauthorized access, make sure your device auto-locks when it’s not in use. Also, consider enabling a Find My Phone-type app on your device, so that if you do lose it, you can log in on another device to see the lost phone’s whereabouts.
▪ Consider mobile pay. Payment options such as Apple Pay and Android Pay let you shop with your smartphone at retailers through certain apps. Instead of swiping or chipping your credit cards, you tap your phone, which transmits a unique code to the retailer for each purchase that is useless to fraudsters.
▪ Use a stricter log-in. Many of us use the same password for multiple online accounts, and that can make it easy for thieves to take over your accounts. Instead, use a different password for each of your online shopping accounts. That way, if a thief grabs your user name and password from one website, they won’t be able to go on a shopping spree with your other accounts.
▪ Opt for stronger authentication. This is especially important for accounts with sensitive information regarding your email or bank accounts. A stronger authentication helps verify a user has authorized access to an online account. For example, it could be a one-time PIN texted to your mobile device, providing an added layer of security beyond the password and username.
▪ Beware of scammers: A common tactic thieves use to steal your personal information is phishing. The thieves send you an email that appears to be from a legitimate source, like a popular retailer, which contains an altered URL. The altered URL takes you to a fake website designed to collect your personal information. Never give out personal information online unless you initiated contact with the company.
For more AT&T consumer tips, visit http://hrld.us/2jq3SuG.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.