Just use your credit card!
Thanksgiving is over and most of us have recovered from our turkey induced commas, this also means Christmas shopping is well underway. This is the time of year when most cyber thieves take advantage of distracted consumers who are making purchases in stores and online.
For any of you who have kids or remotely understand how their minds operate, you can appreciate this. I can’t count how many times I’ve been shopping with my daughter and she asks me to buy her something. On occasions I will tell her that I don’t have the money to purchase that toy that she’s just itching to take home that day. Her response is, “Just use your credit card!” I realized the first time this happened that I had to tell her that I wasn’t using a credit card and that I’m using a debit card. The first two times this happened I had to explain the differences and even now, I’m not so sure that she gets it. I explained to my daughter that credit cards require you to repay the money that was borrowed and that there’s a penalty attached to it, i.e. interest rates. I’m positive she had the idea that these “magic” plastic cards have some limitless pot of gold attached to them and probably a dancing leprechaun cheering at each swipe. We all know that is far from the truth.
Cyber safety isn’t just about cyberbullying. Whether they are using a computer or using their cellphones, as adults we have an obligation to teach our kids about consumer safety and how to protect their sensitive information posted online. This is the biggest shopping season of the year and the perfect opportunity to practice and teach consumer safety.
Microsoft and Safeshopping.org have a few consumer cyber safety tips:
- Make sure you have a secure Internet connection. This will ensure that your information cannot be hacked. Most companies will allow you to provide your credit card information over the phone as well.
- When you checkout, always check that the web page where you enter debit or credit card details has a web address that starts with “https” vs. “http” and a closed padlock icon or unbroken key symbol in the border at the bottom of the page. This means the page is secure and it's safe to enter your financial information.
- Looks for third party verification logos.
- Use a filter that will warn you against suspicious websites like SmartScreen Filter.
- Create strong and unique passwords and PINs
- Avoid making financial purchases on public computers
During this holiday season remember to protect yourself online and keep track of your banking activity. Don’t forget to have a chat with the tweens in your life about online/consumer responsibilities when they are on the computer and on cellphones.