You can’t go for too long without hearing about some form of cyber breach regarding credit or debit cards.  Cybercriminals have become quite adept at “skimming” your financial information through altered terminals at ATMs, gas stations and retailers.  The ensuing havoc can take quite some time to sort out!

But have you considered that the biggest cyber threats may not be the cybercriminals lurking about on the dark web?  Have you considered that they may be within your own family?  Online shopping continues to become more and more convenient through the use of shopping apps for phones and tablets, and the creation of accounts on retail sites.  We are encouraged to store payment information in the app or on the site for our convenience when we next place an order. 

Some of you may recall the story of a very adorable 22-month-old boy – which was all over the evening news recently.  This young boy managed to purchase $2,000 of furniture on Walmart’s website.  It turns out his mother was looking at furniture, using her phone.  She had placed several items in her shopping cart, intending to make her selection later.  But her very clever son got her phone and managed to complete the purchase for her.  It was not until the merchandise started arriving at their home, that the parents realized what had happened.  See the full story at  Fortunately Walmart has an easy return policy so they will receive refunds for the chairs they decide not to keep.  Unfortunately, not all online merchants accept returns very easily.  And getting your money back can feel like you are engaging in verbal warfare!

As we continue to utilize the convenience of shopping online, partially in our attempts to stay safe during the pandemic, we should be mindful of how we are using our online accounts.  Many merchants have an option for two-step verification of purchases.  While it may seem more complicated, it is an added protection against unwanted purchases.  A Customer Service Representative from a major bank suggested that if you do store payment information in your online account, consider using a prepaid Visa card for that purpose.  Another option is to not store the payment information in the account at all.  While it may seem inconvenient to re-enter the information each time you make a purchase, the inconvenience of dealing with an unauthorized transaction is far greater. 

Many of us are active on at least one social media platform.  Be mindful of what you post in response to those questions that look so random!  For example, do you remember your childhood phone number?  What was your favorite pet’s name?  What was the address of your childhood home?  While these quizzes may look innocent enough, the responses can be used to make attempts at logging into an account.  Your fun answer just might give a cyber thief the needed clue to hack into your system!

Stay safe everyone!

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