‘Tis the season for family get-togethers and of course — holiday shopping. Last year, from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, more than 174 million people in the U.S. made purchases either in store or online (and more than 81 million shopped online during Cyber Monday). With a record $6.59 billion (a 16.8 percent increase from 2016) in online sales on Cyber Monday in 2017, it became the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, according to Adobe Insights.
Shopping from the comfort of your home or on the go makes Cyber Monday a popular shopping event. In fact, for the first time Cyber Monday mobile sales reached $2 billion in 2017. With more people taking part in Cyber Monday, it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant when shopping online. For many, online shopping means greater convenience, but for online thieves it means more opportunities to steal your identity. Read on for tips to help keep your identity safe this holiday season and prevent theft.
Adding an extra layer of security by turning on two-factor authentication (when available) is a good idea to prevent identity theft for your online accounts — email, mobile accounts, social media, credit card/banking and more. Two-factor authentication requires your password, but it takes it one step further by requiring additional information such as a code sent to your phone or another account. If your password has been compromised, your account can’t be accessed without the second piece of information.
Free Wi-Fi available in public places like coffee shops, restaurants and airports can offer you faster access to the next online deal, but is it worth the risk? Be careful when it comes to using unsecured networks.
How to Keep Your Personal Information Safe Online
We’ve all gone through the process of creating a password for an online account. If the password strength is yellow, you’re set, right? Not so fast. Weak passwords can be a big problem. It’s recommended to choose a password that is:
- At least 12 characters long
- Contains a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols
- Free of personal information like your name/birthdate, family member’s name/birthdate, name of a pet, etc.
With so many accounts, it can be tempting to use the same passwords for all accounts or even select the “remember me” option, but these habits can present opportunities to online hackers.
Before making online purchases, take a closer look at the URL. URLs that start with “https://” are secured by an internet security protocol. It’s also important to verify links before clicking on them. Hover over links to be sure it’s taking you the correct website/retailer.
Check to see if your bank or credit card company offers transaction monitoring alerts. With transaction monitoring, you can get notifications of when your card has been used – giving you the ability to dispute fraudulent charges more quickly.
Staying a step ahead
When it comes to protecting your identity against cyber criminals, you can’t be too careful. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. Talk to your local Farm Bureau agent about adding our Identity Services and Fraud Expense Coverage to your Farm Bureau homeowners, farm/ranch, and other property or liability insurance policy.