For those deal shoppers that prefer to skip the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, online buying reigns king. While shopping from your home can feel safer than braving the holiday crowd, it’s especially important to keep your electronic information safe and secure this time of year.
Keeping your Electronic Information Secure
When shopping online this holiday season, the first thing you should do is update your anti-virus protection software on your laptop or desktop PC. Don’t forget about your phone and tablets! Because we’re doing more on our mobile devices, whether they’re Apple iPhones, iPads or Androids, these devices are also vulnerable to hackers. Before you shop on that tablet or phone, be sure to:
- Turn on the encryption feature to protect the sensitive data on your device.
- Install or update anti-malware software from the approved App Store.
- While you’re at it, be sure you’ve updated the latest operating system for your device. They typically include enhanced security to help protect your apps and data.
- Go into Settings and set up the password or PIN locking feature to prevent unauthorized access if your phone is lost or stolen.
- Only downloading apps from your approved store or other trusted sites.
- Set the “Bluetooth” feature to “non-discoverable” mode to protect against connecting with other wireless devices. Thieves will try to use the Bluetooth feature to connect to your device without your knowledge, download malware and steal your information.
- Don’t “jail break” your new mobile device. It will leave it more vulnerable to attack.
- Make sure you’re not being shoulder-surfed — Be aware and protect against individuals looking over your shoulder while you enter sensitive information.
- No shopping via the café’s Wi-Fi. Try to limit use of public computers and Wi-Fi hotspots to general web surfing, not holiday shopping.
Email Confirmation Security
When shopping online you typically will receive email confirmations of your purchases. It is important to keep in mind that e-mail security is very important as well:
- Never click on attachments or links sent in unsolicited emails or from unknown sources that could potentially download
- malicious software.
- Always make it a habit to check the sender’s email address to make sure the message is legitimate.
- Never give out your user IDs, passwords, account information, etc if you receive an unsolicited email or phone from someone claiming to work for organizations you do business with. Legitimate companies won’t ask you to share passwords or user IDs.
Consider placing a fraud alerts with the credit reporting agencies. Cyber criminals are always trying to figure out ways to steal client identities to take hijack their credit history; establish accounts; and steal money. A fraud alert means you’ll know if someone tries to conduct unauthorized activities such as applying for credit cards, getting loans, etc.
To help educate consumers on how to combat and defend themselves against some of these threats, Washington Federal’s website www.washingtonfederal.com has links with important safety tips concerning identity theft prevention.