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Tech Tuesday: Since Covid-19 Online Sales have spike 2x-3x normal levels. Learn how to protect your online purchases below.

Since the onset of Covid-19 online retailers have seen double and triple digit increases in online sales. Many retails share that monthly online sales numbers are rivaling that of holiday sales of the pasts. The increase in online sales has also increased the number of unauthorized use of a credit or debit cards.

Credit and debit card numbers can be stolen from unsecured websites or can be obtained in an identity theft scheme. While Cyber Criminals are consistently working hard to steal your hard earned cash there are a few things you can do to mitigate your risks and make it harder for the Cyber Criminal to win.

Cyber criminals may be finding new ways to defraud credit cardholders, but there are several ways to protect yourself. Below are a few things to consider when making electronic purchases.

When making an electronic purchase either online or in person you should always utilize a credit card. Now before you start nagging about how this will affect your goal of getting out of debt or go against your rule against utilizing credit cards I want you to think about what I am about to share with you.

Using a debit card to make purchases is very convenient and helpful for those that are trying to stick to a strict budget. However, using a debit card that is directly tied to your personal finances creates inherent risks. Example, if a Cyber Criminal uses your debit card fraudulently they will be pulling money directly from your bank account. Once you report the fraudulent activity to your bank it could take a bank up to three months to refund the money. In some rare cases the money is never returned. For many this could have a devastating effect on personal finances.  

Using a credit card to make your purchases you are essentially using the Credit Cards bank account to make the purchase, you’re not on the hook for the charges until the bill comes due at the end of the month. If your credit card is stolen and the Cyber Criminal goes on a $5,000 shopping spree, you’re covered. Credit card purchases are covered under the Truth In Lending Act, a federal statute that limits consumer liability to no more than $50; most banks will not hold you liable for any charges.

If you discover fraudulent charges you should immediately notify your financial institution. The bank can quickly cancel your current account and reissue a new account and card. Do NOT Delay in making this Call! In most cases the card company will review the last few purchases with you to determine what is legitimately yours and what charges were made by the fraudster.

In some cases, figuring out when the fraudulent charges started can help the credit card companies find the source of the fraud and potentially stop fraudulent charges from hitting their other customers.

At the end of the day most people do not even think about the potential of identity theft when making electronic purchases. Reality is the world has changed, now we must be proactive and be as careful as we can when making electronic purchases.

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Kip Kirchberg is an International Cyber Security Expert who has experience building World Class Cyber Security Teams. His experience has been leveraged by Multiple Fortune 500 organizations to help build, tune, and enhance their Cyber Security Posture.

Experience includes but is not limited to Building SIEM platforms, Endpoint Security, 3rd Party Remote Access, Industrial Control System’s, NextGen Firewall’s, Threat Hunting to Identify Cyber Security Risks, Generating Executive Reports that lead to actionable data, Build and maintain Incident Response Team’s, Draft and Adopt Corporate Cyber Security Governance, Internal and External Pen Testing, Team Building, plus much more…

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