Monthly Archives: November 2007

Protecting Your Identity During Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Barely giving us time for the turkey to digest, some stores are advertising that they will open their doors at 4:00 a.m. this Friday to kick off the official start of the holiday shopping season. And some online retailers have already gotten a jump start and are offering deals starting today. Check out this site for a list of deals both online and bricks and mortar retailers are offering this year.

Earlier this week Consumer Reports released its annual survey on holiday shopping and the results are interesting:

The survey showed a growing preference for shopping online instead of standing in line. More than two-fifths of adults (42 percent) will shop online this year with more women joining the gift-clicking crowd (41 percent this year vs. 37 percent last year). The main allure, those surveyed said, is convenience (48 percent) but some shoppers say they go online for better selection (12 percent) and better prices (11 percent).

Most online consumers shop from home (95 percent), but among those surveyed who work full-time, 21 percent said they shop from work. Of those, 15 percent admitted to shopping during work hours.

Evenings are the most popular time of day to shop online, especially for males (63 percent) and consumers ages 18 to 34 (64 percent). Three-quarters of online shoppers do not have a day of the week when they typically shop but for those who do, shopping online peaks with 43 percent of respondents shopping the Web on Saturdays, followed by 20 percent on Sundays, 11 percent on Fridays and lesser numbers the rest of the week.

Does shopping online save time? Apparently not. Those with Internet access from home will spend about 11 hours shopping online and that’s about the same amount of time — 10 hours — as the general public.

Regardless of if you are visiting a store or shopping online, one thing still remains – you need to protect your identity! Here are some of those over heard but under heeded tips to follow all year long:

  1. Keep an eye on your credit card every time you use it – whether in a store or in a restaurant, and make sure you get it back as quickly as possible. Try not to let your credit card out of your sight whenever possible.
  2. Don’t use a debit card for online shopping. If there is a problem, a debit card could give phishers or hackers access to your entire checking and/or savings account. Plus, most debit cards don’t have the same protections that credit cards offer. And along those lines, never provide your credit card information on a website that is not a secure site. You can tell if a site is secure because the web address starts with “https:” (s means it’s secure!) For added safety check for a site certificate before submitting information on a secure page. Confirm the owner of the certificate by clicking on the padlock icon at the bottom of most browsers. You should see the owner listed as well as the site address. This address should match the Web site address at the top of the page; if they do not match, you may be at a fraudulent Web site and should not enter personal data.
  3. Check the privacy policy of any website you plan to purchase from. Make sure they have a privacy policy, that your data stays private to the merchant, and that they don’t sell or rent your information to third parties.
  4. Make sure all of your security software is up-to-date before you do your online shopping. That includes anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and firewalls.
  5. Use a separate email account for your online shopping.
  6. Never enter personal information into a pop-up screen. Unauthorized pop-up screens can be created by identity thieves and the screen may be completely unrelated to the websites you are visiting.
  7. Never respond to emails asking you to “confirm” recent transactions after you shop. These are phishing scams that coincidentally are sent around the time you shop.
  8. Trust your instincts. If you feel something isn’t right, investigate more or buy from another vendor.

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Filed under black friday safety, cyber monday safety, holiday shopping safety, identity, identity theft, Internet Safety, Internet Security, marketing, protecting your credit, stolen identity

Trolling the Identity Blogs

I do realize that my dedication to posting has been rather sporadic lately. What can I say; it is a busy time of year.

I spent some time this week catching up on what others have been blogging about lately and there are some good posts I want to point out for you.

First, Kim Cameron is back in high gear commenting on identity happenings of late. Be sure to read Ready or Not: Barbie becoming an identity provider which is based on an article by Kevin Poulsen on Wired’s Threat Level last week. You also need to check out Massive breach could involve 94 million credit cards which discusses the update to the TJX breach that happened almost a year ago; Breached which describes the most recent hack to Kim’s blog; and That Elusive Privacy which is a funny look at Kim’s self proclaimed “digital birthday” by Craig Burton and why it couldn’t survive social networking sites. By the way, I also see that Kim was named No 33 on the Top 50 Agenda Setters for 2007. Congratulations.

While you could get lost reading lots of good stuff in/from Kim’s blog there are some more items you should check out elsewhere, including Valleywag’s post about the bank intern who got busted by Facebook. He missed work for a “family emergency” and then posted a picture of himself at a Halloween party in NYC (dressed as a fairy) on his Facebook profile. You might also want to read InformationWeek’s Richard Martin’s post titled Facebook, Feds, Close In On Online Privacy discussing online privacy issues, Google’s OpenSocial and Facebook Ads. Finally, Mark Dixon’s synopsis from Mobile Internet World which took place in Boston this week provides some good insight into the mobile market in general.

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Filed under consumer privacy, data breach, Facebook, fraud, identity, Identity verification, kim cameron, Mark Dixon

MySpace Irony

I’m sure by now you’ve seen the news that the co-founder of MySpace has been caught faking his age on his MySpace profile. Quite ironic given the age verification issues social networks are facing these days. But now seems as good a time as any to say that age and identity verification doesn’t mean you can’t have an online persona that is or isn’t based on your true age.

While I would recommend not giving away any personally identifying information on your profile for the sake of safety (including your birthday), the point of having an age and identity verification solution within a social network is to function behind the scenes to verify someone is an adult and help us monitor what is appropriate for our kids.

Last week IDology representatives attended a forum on Internet Safety with Georgia’s Governor Sonny Perdue. This was part of the Governor’s Child Safety Internet initiative (a.k.a. CSI Georgia) and was well attended by teachers, law enforcement, child advocates, parents, and business leaders. Clearly as a community we are all concerned with keeping kids safe on the Internet.

There are two components to CSI Georgia which are prevention and enforcement. Prevention includes strong education and awareness initiatives towards caregivers, teachers and kids about the dangers of the Internet as well as how to stay safe. What I think is often overlooked in these discussions but definitely a strong component of any prevention initiative is the efforts ecommerce companies need to take to protect kids online. On the forum panel was Michael McKeehan, the Executive Director of Internet & Technology Policy from Verizon, which incidentally was the major sponsor of the event and is very committed to CSI Georgia as evident in their $25K grant announced during the event. This effort (and participation) by Verizon shows that the telecommunications industry is one of the leaders in taking proactive steps to protect kids not only in their education efforts but also their business practices as recommended through the CTIA guidelines regarding content access by minors. Boy, how I’m ready for the major social networks to follow the telecommunications industry example and adopt guidelines themselves.

In my personal efforts to further protect kids online through both promoting age verification and providing education, here are some programs you need to check out:

  • Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) – this organization offers a “The Internet and Your Child” free safety class for parents and anyone else who supervises children’s online activities. Topics include Windows basics, parental controls, popular Web sites for social networking, hacking, and protecting your privacy from identity thieves. Also instructors go online and pose as children to show participants the types of dangers children may be exposed to online.
  • Project Safe Childhood – the US Department of Justice launched Project Safe Childhood which includes a new outreach program called “eSafe Georgia.” eSafe Georgia is a pilot program which involves training high school students to be experts in internet safety, technology and public speaking who will then film presentations about these topics to be presented in middle school assemblies, classes and school newscasts this year. Additionally eSafe Georgia teams will travel to middle school classes to provide instructions about playing “Missing” an interactive internet safety game produced by WebWise Kids.
  • The Family Online Safety Institute – an international, non-profit organization that facilitates the meeting of thought leaders in technology and policy in order to find innovative solutions for family online safety. Here you can get access to The ParentalControl Bar which is a free public service that helps concerned parents prevent their children from accessing adult-oriented Web sites as well as some great materials to help you start discussing these issues with kids.

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Filed under Age Verification, Internet Safety, Internet Security, MySpace, protecting kids online, sexual predators, social networking