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Written by Cyndie Martini
on November 30, 2018

After last year’s Equifax data breach, you would expect consumers to be more careful with their data this year. However, the opposite seems to have occurred. Nearly 15% of those surveyed who said they would not share their info for a holiday discount last year have changed their mind, and similar amounts of those on the fence have ventured over the side willing to risk their data for discounts.

Why Are People Taking More Risks? 

To be fair, the most common response on that survey was a “maybe” depending on how good the discount was, but the predicted fear is not there. The two most substantial ways people are scammed during the holidays are through stealing current card information and new account fraud. New account fraud is down, and current card fraud has been up the past few years.

The installation of chips in many debit cards has helped keep this fraud down. Each chip generates a unique code for each purchase made, which adds significant protection to your holiday shopping. These chips may be part of the reason why people seem to be less concerned with identity fraud this holiday season. Unfortunately, there is one glaring weakness with the chip: it offers no protection for online purchases.

This is a significant problem because Cyber Monday shopping continues to grow, both in dollars (over $3 billion last year) and in duration, as online sales for some companies have increased from one day two a week, and in some cases nearly a month in length. The vast majority of these sales are done online by credit or debit card, without the protection of your card’s chip.

What Can You Do To Keep Your Money Safe During The Holiday Season? 

  1. Check your purchases regularly. Whether your info gets stolen online or in a store, the sooner you catch an unusual transaction, the sooner the account can be stopped and the perpetrator potentially caught. Remember, it really could be as simple as waiting staff photographing your card with their phone as they take it from your table to the register. (This is in no way insinuating that waiting staff are identity thieves, but pointing out that literally, anyone could do it in a matter of seconds.)
  2. If you find deals online, be sure to check to make sure the company is legitimate. If you are not sure, check bbb.org to find out if the company has a bad reputation with fraud or theft.
  3. You may request a free scan of the dark web to see if your information is out there for sale. Find out more at experian.com.

These tips are just a few ways to keep your money and your credit safe during the holiday season. There are also alternatives to using credit cards for online shopping. PayPal and other institutions offer means to make purchases without handing over your credit card or bank information directly to companies.

The bottom line is this, there are always loopholes that people can find to get your information, and they will typically increase during times of higher transactions (like the holidays) so be extra vigilant, watch your accounts, and if a deal or a company feels off, investigate it before you make the purchase. A deal is not a deal if you end up being sold in the transaction.

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