In the midst of this bustling season of heightened online activity, it’s crucial to be aware of the increased risks associated with stolen identities. As we all indulge in the convenience of virtual shopping for Halloween costumes, fall décor, and upcoming holiday gifts, it’s important to remain vigilant. Here are seven tips you can use to reduce your risk of identity theft in the months ahead.

1. Use a digital wallet service, like Google Pay or Apple Pay

When you make a purchase, the encryption system used by digital wallets replaces your actual card information with a one-time digital “token.” The technology may be complex, but all you need to do is remember the easy part: the store you buy from will never see your card number. Even better, if your payment information is illegally obtained in a security breach, it will be useless.

2. Use virtual cards for secure online shopping

Find out if your credit card company offers virtual cards, which are temporary credit card numbers that replace your regular credit card credentials for a more secure shopping experience. Virtual cards provide added peace of mind since your actual credit card number remains safe if the virtual numbers are stolen.

3. Set up text notifications

Set up alerts on your phone so you’ll know when transactions, big or small, are attempted with your card information. This simple alert can help you spot potential fraud and identity theft.

4. Log on through a virtual private network (VPN)

VPN networks are available on your mobile phone and home computer. They work by encrypting (converting information into a code to prevent unauthorized use) your online activity to keep your information and transactions private.

5. Avoid public Wi-Fi when shopping

VPN helps hide your data, but you should still stay on a Wi-Fi network you trust while shopping online in public places to avoid revealing personal information.

6. Be careful with social media ads

Too often, these ads offer “too good to be true” pricing on items you want, but be cautious because they could exist only to steal your information, leaving you wanting answers and your purchase. Do your digital shopping homework before trying to buy holiday “steals.” Research reviews and customer complaints. If you don’t feel good about what you find, move on.

7. Stay alert - email phishing scams are not a gift

Online traffic is busy with cybercriminals looking to take advantage of shoppers. Be extra careful with your inbox during holiday time. Ignore emails alerting you to changes with your account and instead go directly to the company’s website to confirm the information. Clicking on the email could lead to a scammer trying to steal your information. If the email looks suspicious or comes from an unrecognizable address, delete it.


Shop safely online all year long with these tips. Want more support and advice? When you activate your free ProtectMyID® Essential plan powered by Experian®, you’ll get access to exclusive AAA member-only features, including Credit Monitoring your Experian credit report, Lost Wallet Protection, and 24-Hour Resolution support.

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