The Christmas shopping season traditionally kicks off on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. This also begins a time when criminals swarm the shopping malls as well as the Internet, seeking to take advantage of holiday opportunities.
When shopping in stores, keep the following in mind:
Employees: Seasonal employees are more likely to steal, from their employer and from the customers. It has been said that only 10% of employees are honest, 10% of employees will always steal and 80% will steal based on circumstances. So always count your change.
Credit Card Skimming: When a salesperson or waiter takes your credit card, they can run it through a card reader device that will copy the information stored on the magnetic strip. So when you hand over your card, watch closely to see where it is taken and what is done with it. It’s normal for the card to be swiped through a point of sale terminal or keyboard card reader. But if you happen to see your card being swiped through an additional reader that doesn’t coincide with the transaction, your card number may have been stolen.
Debit Card Skimming: Without the associate PIN, a skimmed debit card number is difficult to turn into cash. With the help of a hidden camera or a “shoulder surfer,” though, your PIN could be recorded at an ATM or point of sale terminal. Cover the keypad while you’re entering your PIN.
Pickpockets: Pickpockets slink through society, undetected and undeterred. They are subtle and brazen at the same time. They are like bed bugs, crawling on you and injecting numbing venom that prevents you from detecting their bite until it’s much too late.
Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places. Pickpockets use distractions like bumps, commotions, and aggressive people. Sometimes a person will fall down, drop something, or appear to be ill.
Consider subscribing to McAfee Identity Protection, a service that offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. For additional tips, please visit www.counteridentitytheft.com.
Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss Black Friday on The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. (Disclosures)