Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, many stores are usually in the habit of extending their biggest online one-day-of-deals giving shoppers extra time to save on popular electronics, clothes or home appliances. Whether you’ve made those purchases or are still in the process you might want to keep in mind that your credit card and personal information can be particularly vulnerable, especially if shopping online.
Increasingly, identity theft is a fact of life. We might once have hoped to protect ourselves from hackers with airtight passwords and aggressive spam folders, and those are good ideas as far as they go. But the truth is, there are people out there — a lot of them — who treat stealing your identity as a full-time job. And so with that in mind, you really want to think before you click especially if you get a link in a text or email for a promotion you think is from one of your favourite retailers, people will often click and not realize that it could be a fake website, which looks authentic, and they’ve inadvertently installed malware on your device or compromising their personal information. So, if you do get a link to any type of online promotional deal I would suggest avoiding the link sent to you and go directly to the retailer’s website by typing in the address just to be safe and from there access their deals and promotions.
So, being able to use your debit card for online purchases is a great convenience that I’ve used many times. But the bottom line is when you’re using a credit card it’s the bank’s money and when you’re using a debit card it’s your own money. Generally, credit cards have more robust fraud protection features that are pretty much zero liability but with a debit card, if you fail to notify the bank right away of any misuse, you could still be liable. If using credit or debit is too much of a worry and you want to be extra secure, I’d advise using a one of the new types of virtual credit cards. They have a technology built into them that randomly generates a new card number for each online transaction. I’d check with your credit card company to see if they offer this as an option.
Most of the time they are fine however what a lot of people aren’t aware of is that there are scams connected to pre-paid gift cards as well. It has been reported in the past that pre-paid gift cards ended up getting hacked as well. Thieves will go to store and faintly scratch gift cards that are easily accessible on a rack and write down the number. They wait for you to buy the card and activate the card and then will drain the card before you get a chance to use it.
One more thing I’ll add is for shoppers to be wary about shopping online when using public Wi-Fi. Many coffee shops and restaurants these days now offer free Wi-Fi. A lot of people who are out and about during the holidays will hook up to free public Wi-Fi to shop . Keep in mind that hackers can infect some of these weak public Wi-Fi spots or even create their own public Wi-Fi that will pop up on your mobile device that will look like the name of the actual Wi-Fi network. If you connect to this Wi-Fi, you connect to the hacker who can then filter and record everything you do giving them all your personal information.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s website has lots of resources and further information on this topic. One page in particular that might be helpful and related to today’s topic is: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/