Even though the holidays are a wonderful time, consumers have to be extra careful about protection from ID theft during holiday season shopping. They need to watch their personal information. Unfortunately, with all the increased shopping going on during the holidays, there is also a huge rise in ID theft and credit card fraud.
There are many complex ID theft methods being used that most consumers are unaware of. For example, point of sale ID theft is one way hackers can steal consumers’ info through a store’s network. This can easily happen when a retailer never changes the default password for their router. Many factories use a log in like “admin” and a password of “1234” that is easily guessable. Thieves often go after the easiest weakest prey and having a simple password is likened to having a door open with no lights on when you go away on vacation. This makes a very easy target and an invitation for a thief to go in and take what they want. Once the network is broken into criminals can download consumers’ personal information, allowing them to go on a spending spree.
Similar theft can happen with consumers’ computers as well. However, with some simple steps consumers can prevent most fraud attempts.
One step that’s vital for consumers is keeping their operating systems and browsers on the cutting edge of technology. Microsoft did a test and found that computers kept up-to-date were 70% less susceptible to malware. Having strong passwords is another tool to keep thieves away since they would rather take the easy route and steal from someone with an easily guessable password. Even though it may be a pain, it’s also a good idea to have a separate password for each site. In addition, spending a little money on an excellent antivirus and malware protection program as well as up to date routers could save a lot in time and expenses later on.
One thing to note; even though they are becoming increasingly popular, the jury is still out on using password management programs. My feeling is if thieves know there is a network filled with thousands of consumers users and passwords wouldn’t they target it? Why waste time trying to break into one consumer’s network when you can break into a network filled with hundreds and thousands of individuals’ identity and credit card info? If you are not writing and storing your passwords anywhere it is less likely someone will find that info.
I also recommend a credit monitoring product on top of these methods. This can help either prevent or detect identity theft and credit card fraud in their early stages (please see my post here: http://goo.gl/voHefq for more info).