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Protect your personal information when shopping online

We are doing more holiday shopping online than ever. All those online financial transactions can leave us open to fraud. Protect your personal information.

Most gifts are just a click away. So is identity theft. It can cause someone to lose $1,200 on average. Keep your money and your personal information safe by taking these simple precautions while doing your  holiday shopping online.

“It’s really important to do things like varying your password,” said Ted Rossman, a credit card industry analyst for Bankrate.com who is helping shoppers navigate the 2020 holiday season. “That’s something that 80% of Americans are failing to do and it’s potentially putting you at risk saving payment information.”

He said not to worry about remembering all those complex passwords.

“A good tip here is to use a service like Ask Pass that’s going to give you a strong, unique password for every site and you only have to remember the one master password," Rossman said. "That’s a good way to keep it easy, but also be much more secure.”

Use two-factor authentication with your password when you can. Neil Daswain, author of “Big Breaches: Cybersecurity Lessons for Everyone” explains why:

“The problem is many of our passwords can be stolen by cyber criminals off the dark web,” Daswain said. “So it’s important to have another factor as you log in. Two-step verification; what it will do is it’ll send a code to your mobile phone when you’re logging in, after you provide a password. It serves as an additional defense.”

Next, always use a credit card when buying online.

“Saving credit is definitely better than debit because a debit card is direct access to your checking account, whereas a credit card, it’s just a line of credit,” Rossman said.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi when making any financial transactions.

“It’s easier for these fraudsters to intercept sensitive information,” said Rossman. “Sometimes they can do it online. Sometimes they’re even sitting in the coffee shop with you with some kind of surveillance device. This is something where public Wi-Fi is especially harmful if you’re doing sensitive business.”

Both Rossman and Deswain said to freeze your credit, too.

“Unless you are applying for a home mortgage, getting a car loan or applying for more credit cards, there’s no reason to leave the door open to attackers to use information that they can steal about you to open lines of credit in your name,” said Daswain.

These are extra steps will allow you to shop safely.

If you have a question for Eyewitness Wants To Know, email us at EWTK@kens5.com or call us at 210-377-8647.