Experts share tips to protect holiday shoppers from data breaches

Experts share tips to protect holiday shoppers from data breaches

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It seems like we can't go a month without hearing about hackers getting into a retailer or restaurant chains malware, and stealing sensitive information from consumers.

With the holidays around the corner, many of us have shopping on our minds. Shopping means spending and many fear spending because it could mean more than just losing your money, but your privacy and your identity.

Representatives with the Better Business Bureau say major stores and banks getting hacked shows you how common this can be.

is one big box stores recently experiencing a round of data breaches. Target, Michael's and Neiman Marcus all confirmed hacks earlier this year.

Home Depot is another one which confirmed malicious software affected 56 million debit and credit cards about a month back.

It's not just happening in stores, it's even when you swipe for a burger.


were also targeted.

Let's face it, chances are, you've bought something at one of these places that has been recently hacked.

Computer experts say it's just about outsmarting the thieves.

"As long as you're on top of your statements and your passwords you can get things changed before its a problem for you. As soon as you hear about something like that, cancel those credit cards get them changed," said Ahmad Abuadas, chief operations at iScreen Fix. "As soon as you hear about snapchat getting hacked, the first thing you should do is go in there and change your password."

As technology grows, so do hackers in their attempts to steal your stuff. From an iPhone to an iPad, these items aren't safe if a hacker wants to get in.

The problem is, people don't take proactive measures for protection. WMBF News reached out to several experts for tips for you, K

athy Graham with the BBB, Chief of operations at iScreen Fix Ahmad Abuadas, and Certified Financial Planner Chris St. John.

They all had the same top tip - pay attention to your passwords. Computer experts say ideally you want a password that is twelve characters long. The longer the password, the longer it will take a hacker to crack the code. This is especially important when it comes to smartphone app's. For example, If your apple password is the same as your applications,

not only can the hacker get into your phone, they can find their way into your app's too.

"As we get into an age with more and more computers and technology you're always gonna have this kind of vulnerability and so you just have to be careful with anything you do," said Certified Financial Planner Chris St. John.

Just like hackers stay on top of getting into the system, you need to stay on top of protecting yourself.

Top 10 List to Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Hack

1 - Creative passwords:

  • dir="ltr" style="list-style-type:disc;font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">The BBB recommends using a phrase, “I really love my dog skip,” and taking the first letter from each word to formulate a password; also changing capitalization and adding punctuation as well. For example: IrLmDs!

2 - Long Passwords

  • dir="ltr" style="list-style-type:disc;font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Computer experts say the longer the password, the better. Make your password up to 12 characters. You can use a phrase and turn a letter into numbers. For example: Zippity-doo-da would be Z1pp1tyDooDa

3 - Change your password

  • dir="ltr" style="list-style-type:disc;font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Do not keep the same password for each application. If your apple password is the same as your applications, not only can the hacker get into your phone, they can find their way into your app's too.

4 - Get a credit report

  • dir="ltr" style="list-style-type:disc;font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">The BBB recommends and check in at least three times a year, the beginning, middle and end of the year.

5 - Check your bank statement daily

  • dir="ltr" style="list-style-type:disc;font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">If you bank online, you should check several times a day. If you see an unusual transaction, follow up with your bank.
  • dir="ltr" style="list-style-type:disc;font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Many times hackers start taking small, obscure amounts like .97 cents. They do this to see how long they can get away with it until they wipe you out.
  • dir="ltr" style="list-style-type:disc;font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Keep your receipt to compare purchases to your bank statement.

6-  Debit vs. credit

  • dir="ltr" style="list-style-type:disc;font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Experts with the BBB say when using debit card, always say credit, because if you use it as debit the money is immediately taken from your account.  If its credit, you can fight it.

7 - Put a lock on your credit

  • dir="ltr" style="list-style-type:disc;font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">if you don't plan on making major purchases in the future, put a lock on your credit. The BBB advises seniors to do this, especially since its free in SC.

8- Before entering a website, or purchasing on one, check if it is secure

  • dir="ltr" style="list-style-type:disc;font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Safe websites will start with “https” or have a lock icon to the left of the URL.

9-  Do not click on unsolicited emails. This is an easy way people get hacked. Once you open it, it could send worm onto your computer, get all your contacts and send them the worm.

10 - If you're using app's like banking app's, that require personal information, do it under a secure network, one that requires a password, not a public network.

If you are unsure of a company, check with an organization like the Better Business Bureau. It is better to be safe, than sorry.

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