With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, AAA is reminding shoppers to take precautions now to avoid becoming a target for identity theft, a crime that authorities say is growing in frequency almost daily.
According to IdentityTheft.org:
- The frequency of identity theft has been skyrocketing over the last few years, including credit card fraud.
- The average money lost in identity theft has nearly doubled since 2019.
- With a $500 median loss, the cost to victims is growing as we become more digitally dependent.
- Last year, consumers experienced almost $400 million in losses from online shopping.
“October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and AAA encourages credit card users to take the necessary steps and minimize the risks, so they have peace of mind while shopping online,” says Thomas Vaughan, Executive Vice President, Membership, Strategy, and Growth, AAA Club Alliance.
Identity theft protection is an important way to ensure your online security. ProtectMyID®, the Experian Identity Theft Protection service, is a free benefit to all AAA Members.
Here are seven other tips for minimizing the risk of identity theft, whether you shop online or in person:
- Closely monitor your bank account and review all credit card transactions. Immediately report any suspicious activity.
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi. This makes users susceptible to hackers intercepting personal information or implanting malware on a targeted computer or device.
- Make sure online shopping sites begin with HTTPS – not just HTTP. The ‘s’ stands for secure.
- Never share personal information with incoming callers or anyone who reaches out by email, regardless of how legitimate, threatening, or urgent the caller or email seems. Contact the person or company by way of an independent phone number (not the one provided by the caller or email) to ask if there is a problem.
- Never click on links in emails or text messages unless you are expecting the communication and are 100% sure it is safe.
- Enable two-factor authentication on accounts when given the option to do so. This provides an extra layer of security.
- Freeze your credit, thus preventing anyone from opening an account or credit card in your name. It is free to unfreeze your credit should you need to open an account yourself.