Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday shoppers need to be wary of cyber fraudsters to avoid identity theft

 The holiday shopping season is prime time for cyber scammers to try to steal online consumers’ identities.

The holiday shopping season is prime time for cyber scammers to try to steal online consumers’ identities.

ITis the season for cyber scamsters to try to steal your identity.

Droves of shoppers are purchasing online this holiday season: The average consumer plans to do as much as 36% of his or her holiday shopping online, up from 32.7% last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

And a record number of shoppers are projected to purchase gifts from a mobile device during the holiday season — an estimated 17.8 million, according to BigResearch.

All that online traffic is bait for cyber fraudsters eager to do damage like stealing your credit card information and making unauthorized purchases.

While there is no 100% protection, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

“It is important, especially around this time of year, to remain vigilant and focused on cyber security and protection,” said Keith Gordon, security, fraud and enrollments executive at Bank of America.

We asked Gordon and consumer expert Andrea Woroch to share their tips for shopping securely online.

Don’t use the same login that you use for online banking with anything else. “Keep it unique,” Gordon said.

Don't opt to have websites remember your login/account information. This is especially important when it comes to a laptop or mobile device.

If the device is left somewhere or stolen, a fraudster can easily access your personal information.

For an extra layer of security, add a password to your mobile device in case it’s left somewhere or stolen.

Make sure your security software is up-to-date.

Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system is the best way to avoid viruses, malware, and other online threats.

Smartphones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

For example, Trusteer, which is free from Bank of America, works alongside your anti-virus software and firewall in order to help prevent malware and fraudulent websites from stealing your online ID, passcode and other sensitive information.

The program also protects your browser communication while using the Bank of America online banking site to keep malware from tampering with your transactions.

New and existing Bank of America online banking customers receive McAfee Internet Security free for 12 months. 

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