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Shop til you drop, but don't drop your bank account info!

Pretty much every store is having an online sale right now. Here’s how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

  • Install firewalls and virus detection software on all computers, and regularly update and patch them.

  • Use strong passwords (a mix of numbers, symbols and uppercase or lowercase letters), and a different password for bank accounts and other sensitive accounts than for social media accounts.

  • Research websites/retailers to make sure they’re legitimate especially when discounts seem too good to be true. The lock symbol in the browser address bar indicates encryption is used.

  • Only pay using secure payment methods (unsafe methods include wire transfer, Bitcoin, and money order).

  • Don’t over-share on social media. Travel plans, names, and other facts make it easier for thieves.

  • Use discretion when downloading apps (some companies issue app-approved lists for their employees). Research new apps to see if there are any reported security issues.

  • Use the privacy settings provided by apps and social media sites.

  • Don’t open suspicious e-mails and attachments. Go to the company’s website or call.

  • Do not transmit passwords, payment information, or any other confidential information when using public Wi-Fi.

  • Shop with familiar companies, and watch for phishing schemes disguised as holiday deals. Hover the mouse over links to see where they lead before clicking. If in doubt, delete.

  • Safeguard confidential information off-line too. If volunteering, be weary of providing sensitive personal information and ask about data security practices. At check-outs, don’t reveal too much confidential information out loud, and guard your pin.

  • Be sure someone can accept packages being delivered. Mailing labels and receipts contain personal information too.

  • Check credit card and bank statements often. Promptly report purchases you didn’t make.

  • Partner with a trustworthy document destruction company for secure destruction of paper documents and hard drives and e-media that are no longer needed.

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