Identity Theft and Fraud

Stay safe while shopping for the holidays

Posted:  Sunday, November 19, 2017 - 8:30am

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner and this might be a good time to make sure your information, your accounts and your devices are safe while you shop. And since at least half of all purchases will be made using a cell phone or a tablet, we’ve added some advice concerning these, too.

So here’s a pre-shopping checklist to review before heading to the store or purchasing online:

- Use different passwords for frequently visited websites. This is especially important since the Equifax data breach.

- Make sure your devices (computers, cells and tablets) have the recommended security software and settings and that you have installed all updates.

- Use a credit card, not a debit card. The federal laws that govern credit card purchases offer you more protection than laws that govern debit card purchases.

- If you are shopping online, don’t use a public Wi-Fi network. Use only Wi-Fi that is private and secure.

- Be careful of ads that appear on social media sites. Check out the business before clicking on a link or attachment.

- Use caution if you see pop up ads that offer drastic Black Friday discounts. These may be phishing attempts.

- Enable 2-factor authentication for your apps.

- If you are using your cell or tablet, use the business’s app instead of your browser.

- Make sure the website you are using for an online purchase shows the accompanying photo of a padlock in your browser window. The website address should also begin with ‘https://’

- If you receive a warning about a problem with the certificate for a site you are visiting, don’t provide your personal or financial information to that site.

- Purchase from businesses that you know are legitimate.

- Review your bank and credit card statements carefully to make sure there are no suspicious charges or fees on them. If you do spot something that you haven’t authorized, notify your bank or credit card company immediately.

- Make sure that you remove all personal or financial information from old devices before you discard them.

Jane Carpenter is the founder of Maine Identity Services, LLC which provides data breach and identity theft assistance to individuals, organizations and law enforcement personnel through its books, seminars and police materials. For more information about the company and its products, visit