Shopping online got you concerned this holiday season?
A new Gallup Poll shows having personal or financial information stolen online and identity theft remain primary worries when it comes to crime.
Of 13 crimes, including getting mugged or having a home burglarized, Americans worry most about cybercrime: 71 percent are frequently or occasionally worried hackers will get their credit card or other personal information, while 67 percent worry frequently or occasionally about their identity being stolen.
Gallup has polled Americans on their top crime concerns since 2000 and identity theft was added to the list in 2009. Computer hacking was added to the list of crimes for the first time last year, Gallup reports, and it immediately joined identity theft as a chief worry.
Regarding these concerns, Gallup points to an increasing reliance on life managed digitally paired with high-profile data breaches at Facebook, Yahoo and Target in recent years. The concerns are reasonable: The FBI says cybercrime is a growing threat, as crimes become more common, dangerous and sophisticated.
In 2017, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center fielded 301,580 complaints amounting to $1.42 billion in losses. The 60 and older age group saw the most victims — 49,523 — and lost the most, more than $342 million. In 2017, more than 30,000 people reported personal data breaches and more than 25,000 reported phishing or similar attempts, per the FBI report. More than 17,000 people reported identity theft.
So what can you do to stay safe?
- Don't use public wi-fi for any online purchases.
- It's not a sure bet, but websites with "https:" are more secured than those that are preceded by "http:"
- Uses secure payment methods from verified companies (PayPal, Visa, etc.)
- Be creative in creating strong passwords, using numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and keep them private. Reset them periodically.
- Don't post on social media about your whereabouts, especially when away on vacation.
- Be mindful of impersonators and phishing attempts. If a company you have an account with sends you an unexpected email or text with a link to click and confirm information, call to verify the company actually sent the email before doing so.