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Don’t Let Thieves Ruin Your Holiday Season

November 17, 2017 Living Well, Planning Well

Protect your identity when shopping online – important tips.

The holiday season is here. It brings quality family time, parties with friends and unfortunately, new ways for cyber-thieves to attempt to steal your money or your identity. Many experts offer ways to help you guard yourself against identity theft. Follow these safe practices when shopping online:

  • Virus protection: make sure it is up-to-date on your computer that also scans for malware.
  • Entering credit card information: when on a retailer’s website, check to make sure that the website is secure. A secure website normally has “https” in its URL and a lock icon next to the URL address.
  • Have a designated credit card account /reloadable prepaid cards: exclusively for online or holiday shopping, and leave the rest of your credit cards at home. If a thief does get your credit card or credit card number, the loss will be minimized. Avoid using your debit card, which may not offer the same kind of theft/loss protection.
  • Ask your credit card issuer if it offers “virtual credit cards,” or single-use card numbers, that can be used on an online store. Virtual credit cards generate a random account number in place of your actual credit card number. You can configure the expiration date and the maximum amount allowed for a virtual credit card. Once used, the card typically is tied to the merchant where it was used and cannot be used elsewhere.
  • Create a good password: The Government of Canada offers tips on creating a hacker-proof password.
  • Auction sites or an online classified ad: keep your personal information secure by paying through a third-party service such as PayPal.
  • Purchase gift cards directly from retailers or merchants. Gift cards from auction sites or classified ads could be fraudulent or stolen.
  • Do not click a link in an email unless you know and trust the sender. Instead of using the link, enter the web address of the retailer, bank or credit card issuer yourself. Attachments can contain viruses.
  • Solicitation for donations by phone: Be wary, especially if they claim there is an emergency or deadline for donations. If you are suspicious, ask them to mail you a donation form, or for a call back number or hang up immediately and call the charity directly.
  • Do not give personal information: if the caller is claiming to be your bank or financial institution. Hang up and call the bank directly.

The holidays are a wonderful time and there is always a lot to be done. Exercise some care and common sense, so you can ensure that you’re not spending valuable time dealing with identity theft.

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