With the holiday season well underway, there is no doubt that a flood of last minute online orders will take place. But with so many of us using our tech devices to make purchases while on the go, are you double checking to make sure that your information is being kept safe from malicious users? It can be easy to forget that your smartphone is essentially a pocket-sized computer that can not only connect to the internet but houses a good amount of your personal information.
However, the good news is that mobile malware is still relatively uncommon. But the bad news is that there are various other ways that cyber-thieves can obtain your information. One common way is through unsecure networks.
Say you’re sitting down at a cafe and you realize that you forgot to order a Christmas gift, so you connect to the free wifi offered in the cafe and quickly purchase something online. While this may have been convenient for you, you’ve unintentionally sent an open invitation for cyber-thieves to try and steal your information.
Consumer Reports published that a rapidly emerging scam that cybercrooks are using is to take stolen data and open up a fraudulent cell-phone account. The fraudster can then use the account to access – and empty out – the person’s bank account or to open up credit cards in his or her name. However, unlike many other types of scams, there are fewer consumer protections for cell-phone fraud. In 2017, the number of victims jumped 63 percent from a year earlier, to about 340,000, according to the consulting firm Javelin.
Therefore, it is best to always avoid using an unseucre network — no matter how great a deal it is, it will never be worth risking your personal information! But we understand that even if you try your best, your information can still be stolen. In these cases, the best course of action to take is to freeze your credit report. For even greater security, you should also freeze your credit report at the National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange, which most cell-phone service providers use to determine new customers’ credit risk. You can do so by visiting nctue.com or call 866-349-5355.