Keep your ID safe while buying holiday gifts online


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With the holiday season upon us, credit and debit cards are getting a workout in stores and online.

But, if you’re shopping online, you need to take a few extra steps to safeguard yourself from ID theft.

Holiday shopping is in full swing. And even though we are well past cyber-Monday, more and more folks are rejecting running from store to store and are electing to do their holiday shopping in cyberspace these days.

“I probably do 70 percent on line and 30 percent in stores,” says holiday shopper Rebecca Sears. “It’s more convenient, and I get it all done at once.”

And a better economy is allowing for more holiday gift spending.

In its 32nd annual shopping survey, the Deloitte financial and auditing firm says:

• The average consumer will spend $1,226 on gifts this year.

• 51 percent of that spending will be online

And Deloitte says 78 percent of us will use a smartphone to do that online shopping, which opens shoppers up to scammers and identity thieves.

Over at the AT&T store in Raleigh, they sell lots of smart phones and tablets, and the manager there has some advice for those who are going to shop online.

Camilla Harrell says always look for the image of a ‘lock’ on a commercial site because “that tells you it’s a secure site,” she says. That icon and the “s” added to http shows it’s a secure site.

When you are shopping using a mobile device in the field, there’s a whole other set of things to worry about.

“You need to watch out for public Wi-Fi,” says Harrell. “It’s easy to connect to it but it’s unsecured and not encrypted and it leaves you vulnerable to hackers.”

And it’s not a bad idea to use a passcode to lock your mobile device in case it gets stolen. And speaking of passwords, Harrell warns never to use the same one for multiple sites, because that makes the hacker’s job easier.

“Once they get that password, they can log into your whole life, like your bank account, on line shopping all your accounts,” she says.

It’s a worry for a lot of shoppers.

“I was raised designing computers,” says Gene Hayden. “I’m an electrical engineer, but I’m a little bit afraid at all the fraud that’s going on today.”

And even if you are shopping at a brick and mortar store, Deloitte says your smartphone is still coming into play, because almost 25 percent of shoppers in such places will use a mobile wallet on their smartphone to pay for purchases — just another reason to keep your smartphone secure.

Click here for tips to avoid ID theft while shopping online.

Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.

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