Identity Thieves Hone in on Busy Shoppers and TravelersDecember 16, 2019
While you’re making plans for the holidays with family and friends, cyber criminals are looking for opportunities to steal your identity and commit financial frauds. Between 2014 and 2018, there was a 109% increase in holiday identity fraud.1 There are five ways individuals experience greater risk of identity theft around the holidays:
- You’re distracted. As you rush around to stores and holiday parties, you’re more likely to forget your purse, lose your wallet or have a credit card stolen. When you’re distracted, you are less likely to spot a phishing email before it’s too late.
- You use public WiFi or charging stations. Public WiFi networks are not secured by a password, and when you use your device on an open network, your data is at risk of being stolen. The best rule is never to use public WiFi and especially not for financial transactions and shopping. A newer vulnerability exists at public charging stations. Data thieves hack into these stations and “juice jack” unsuspecting victims’ devices by pulling data through the USB cords on phones.
- You are bargain hunting online. Research shows that 43% of holiday shopping identity theft occurs online.2 One minute you’re Googling frantically for hard-to-find holiday gifts and the next minute, you’ve suddenly found them in stock and unbelievably priced for a fire sale. Watch out! This is how bargain hunters get suckered into fake web stores. They steal your card number and identity…and you don’t even get the items you bought.
- Your credit card gets “skimmed.” Sometimes thieves insert a credit card skimmer inside the card machines in gas stations, retail stores or restaurants. Unbeknownst to the store, every customer’s credit card information is being swiped by cybercriminals.
- You fall for a holiday charity scam. You’re feeling extra generous during the holiday season and you give generously when asked for charitable donations. Unfortunately, some criminals use fake charities to tug on your holiday heartstrings. Do your homework before donating.
1 ”Holiday ID Fraud Report,” Jumio, December 2018.
2 “43% of Holiday Shopping Identity Theft Occurs Online,” Experian, November 19, 2018.