Halloween is behind us so out come the holiday decorations, right? Even if you are one to eschew holiday music and decorating until after Thanksgiving you do need to start thinking ahead. The holiday season in the United States is the perfect time of the year for hackers to attack your hard drive in the hopes that you have pulled out your credit card for some holiday shopping.
How can you protect yourself against credit card fraud during the holidays (aside from not shopping online?!)
- Use an encrypted network whenever possible.
- Do not engage in online banking or credit card purchases in internet cafes, book stores and coffee shops.
- Don’t shop online with your primary debit card. It is much easier to detect fraud on a card that is used rarely.
- Check your credit report annually with a site like FreeCreditReport.com
It’s not just your credit card information that is at risk. People travel frequently during the holiday season and when they return to the office they like to ease back into work mode. How to kill those first few mornings back in the office? Show off those pictures you took! When you use your thumb drive from home in your office computer you can potentially infect your entire workplace network! A better option – upload those precious travel pictures to a free hosting site and share them via the internet.
Even if you are careful with your credit card information the holiday season is still a risky time to pull out your credit card. Two days prior to Black Friday last year Target experienced a security breach of their point of sale systems resulting in the theft of 40 million credit and debit card records. Not long after that Home Depot experienced a similar loss, reporting a loss of an excess of 56 million credit card users privacy.
How can you protect yourself against PoS breaches? That’s not as simple. I know that I am unlikely to begin carrying cash. Check your banks statements regularly. Report any suspicious activities. Lastly, monitor the fees charged by your banking institutions. It is likely that the enormous costs shouldered by large banking institutions will begin to trickle down to the end user.