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‘Identity theft a possibility while shopping online during the holiday season’, warns Ivanti

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Ivanti,  has alerted that the holiday season is rife with risks while shopping online.

 Identity theft 

The more information you freely provide online, the more you put yourself at risk for identity theft. Each time you give out your email or phone number to websites to get that extra 10% off discount is another opportunity for that information to be stolen. That information often goes into a database, that when paired with your billing and shipping information, can be a great gift to an identity thief. Hackers are constantly breaching databases so always think twice before giving away personal identifying information online. Data protection through privacy legislation may someday be mandated by law as illustrated by India’s revised data protection bill that was tabled by Parliament, but until that day comes, the burden is on every individual to protect and secure personal information.

According to Michael Waring, Vice President of Asia Pacific and Japan at Ivanti:

While you might be scoping out the deals for Cyber Monday, bad actors are fine-tuning their hacking and phishing schemes in hopes of catching online shoppers unaware this holiday season. With so many people making online purchases this time of year, scammers are upping their game in hopes of fooling unsuspecting buyers into giving away personal information, collecting credit card and gift card numbers, and doing the classic bait and switch, or just taking the money and running. That’s why it is imperative that shoppers be extra vigilant when making online purchases or sharing information online during the holiday season.” 

Credit card fraud 

The prevalent use of credit cards, debit cards, and gift cards as payments this season increases opportunities for hackers and scammers to steal your account information to make fraudulent purchases of their own. According to Statista Research Department, in financial year 2022, banking frauds in India amounted for 1.38 trillion Indian rupees.

A great way to avoid credit card fraud is to use masked or virtual credit cards. There are several services available that generate a unique card number, expiration date, and security code you can use for online purchases. Many allow you to determine charge limits and the duration of time such a card is active. Some banks, including State Bank of India, also offer masking or virtual credit card options for online shopping.

If the seller accepts them, you can also use token-based services such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Visa Checkout, and Mastercard Click to Pay. While these also hide your actual account information, they do not offer the same control and flexibility that virtual credit cards do.

Avoid paying sellers with gift cards, especially if they also ask for the pin. There’s a good chance they are farming for data they can use to make fraudulent purchases. You’ll be left without your purchase and the funds on your gift card.

Be wary of the once-in-a-lifetime deal 

If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Especially if it is a sponsored or promoted ad on social media. Often scammers take advantage of the “hot deals” with a limited time offer to target unsuspecting shoppers. They then either pull a bait and switch, in which you receive something vastly different and cheaper than what you ordered, or you receive nothing at all and the seller took your money and ran. Either case, the seller now also has your payment information, name, and shipping address: all information that can be sold and used for identity theft.

Before completing a purchase on such deals, always examine the website. Does it have “https” in the URL? If not, close that site immediately in your browser. Verify the legitimacy of the business before you enter personal information. Does it have a company address, phone number, and return policy clearly stated? Do they offer tracking for shipments? Take a minute to search reviews of the company. People tend to be vocal when a company scams them.

Additional ways to protect yourself 

Be proactive with your information security. Odds are your information is already out there; accept that fact and then realize it’s on you to choose to protect it. One of the best things you can do is limit the amount of personal identifying information and account information you share online. Time is of the essence in fraud cases, so it’s a great idea to set up alerts on all your credit and debit cards and bank accounts to be notified whenever a purchase is made. Another great practice is put a freeze on your credit so people are unable to open unauthorized accounts in your name. It’s also important to monitor your credit score and set up alerts to be notified if anyone attempts to open a new credit line or account using your information. Use a VPN for further protection when online shopping — you can even do this on your cell phone.

Shop smarts this season 

Stay vigilant in being aware of what information you are providing to sellers and do your due diligence to make sure a business is valid before entering any payment information — and make sure that payment information is masked. Taking that extra minute to ensure you are shopping safely can make the difference between a merry or miserable holiday season.

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