Protect yourself from fraud this festive season

By Staff Writer

You may think you’re safe when you log in to your favourite online shopping site, but that’s not always true. As the Christmas shopping season starts to ramp up, the pickings are ripe for fraudsters and cyber criminals who lie in wait to intercept logins.

By implementing a pre-emptive strategy, however, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of fraud.

Tip: Shop online using the Mobicred card. It's safe and convenient. Click here to apply. 

Taking steps to protect yourself 

It goes without saying that when shopping online, you should only use reputable merchants and sites. There are several sources you can use to research a new provider, such Hellopeter, Google reviews and Mybroadband.

Many shoppers are oblivious when they have been scammed due to the sophistication of the tactics being used. In many cases however, outdated security software, or software that had security flaws, allows cyber criminals to infiltrate defences. Be sure to keep your antivirus and antimalware software up to date, and to use good quality programmes.

When shopping from new sites, take the time to read the terms and conditions, particularly relating to returns and refunds. Make sure you have some recourse before you commit to a purchase or share your personal details. Ensure the page you are using to share your information is secure, i.e., that “https” precedes the URL.

TransUnion offers some further tips to protect your identity.

  • Be careful about using public Wi-Fi. Free public Wi-Fi can be a great incentive to have that extra mug of mocha latte, but there are certain things that you shouldn’t do when hooked up, such as logging in to your online banking profile. Many public Wi-Fi connections are not secure, making it easier for thieves to harvest your information.
  • Consider using a privacy screen. While you are studiously typing on your keypad while using public transport, or on a plane, others can easily see the information on your screen and you may not notice them watching. It’s well worth investing in a privacy screen to block the view of potential fraudsters.
  • Safeguard your wallet. A busy, crowded space is the ideal opportunity for pickpockets and bag-snatchers to operate. If your bag or wallet are stolen, it’s vital that you notify your bank or card issuers immediately to cancel all cards. In addition, you should keep an eye on your credit report to check that no accounts have been opened fraudulently in your name.
  • Keep safeguarded copies of your credit cards, ID, driver’s licence, and passport. It’s worth keeping copies of all important documents, such as your ID, passport and driver’s licence, and your bank and credit cards, in a locked safe, in case these items are stolen or your information is compromised. Having your details handy helps banks or card issuers to act more swiftly to enforce protection.
  • Shred travel documents containing sensitive information. Once you are finished with any travel documents they should be destroyed. This includes boarding passes. If you have stored these on your cell phone or any other device, delete them immediately when they are no longer required.
  • Schedule bill payments ahead of time. Avoid making bill payments while on holiday, as this presents another opportunity for thieves to steal your identity. Pre-scheduling can also help you avoid late payments, and thus prevent damage to your credit profile.
  • Consider freezing your funds. If you think that your personal information has been compromised, contact your bank and credit card companies to freeze your funds and prevent transactions from taking place.
  • Have someone clear your post box while away. Leaving bank statements, municipal and store accounts, and other important documents stacked up in your mailbox makes them easy to steal – and makes it evident that you are not home. Ask a friend or neighbour to collect your mail and keep it for you while you are away.

Think carefully about sharing holiday plans on social media. While you may want the world to know that you’re setting out on a wonderful holiday, this informs thieves that you will be away from home. Limit the information that you make available on social media sites, and be selective about who you inform about your trip.

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