I thought this would be a good topic for today since I mentioned the safety of online shopping yesterday and this morning I heard a story on NPR about US stores being hacked and 40 million card numbers stolen (Listen to the story HERE). I still think shopping online is safe but not absolutely, just like driving is safe but you can still end up dead if things go wrong. Would all of those credit card numbers have been safe if people didn’t shop online? Probably not. The hackers gained access to the main computers of the companies via unsecured wireless access at the storefronts and had access to customer’s personal information. If companies store your personal information whether it is from an in person transaction or an online transaction and then get hacked, you are vulnerable. The only absolute way to protect yourself from thieves (online or otherwise) is to live on a deserted island and have no contact with humanity. Living on a deserted island probably isn’t very feasible for most of us but luckily there are other steps we can take to protect ourselves.
Visit the following sites for valuable information on how to protect yourself or respond to internet fraud and theft.
- Shopping Safely Online by OnGuard Online (OnGuardOnline.gov)
- Request your Free Annual Credit Report compliments of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – Don’t go to the consumer reporting companies individually or they will charge you for your report.
** Annualcreditreport.com (be careful how you type the address. This is the only valid address to get your FCRA authorized free credit report. Lots of companies have created similar addresses so they can sucker you into paying for the report or even to scam you.
** Call 1-877-322-8228
** Print the form from the ftc.gov/credit website
- FTC’s Identify Theft Site (http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft)
Shop safely and wisely (within budget).