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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use a separate email account for your online shopping.
- 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.
- 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.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel something isn’t right, investigate more or buy from another vendor.
Our friends over at ID Analytics just released a fraud study titled U.S. Identity Fraud Hotspots. The study looks at fraud rates over 2006, as confirmed by businesses not consumer victim reports, and is an update to a report they issued earlier this year which examined identity theft fraud rates by geography from 2005 to mid-2006.
While cities in New York and California continue to make the list, surprisingly it’s only those in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain region that make this study’s “Top 10 list of cities where identity fraud grew the most.” These are (in order):
- Springfield, IL
- Bozeman, MT
- Missoula, MT
- Whitefish, MT
- Lolo, MT
- Bismarck, ND
- Hamilton, MT
- Big Fork, MT
- Grand Forks, ND
- Fargo, ND
For all my friends and neighbors, yes Atlanta – particularly zip code 30344 – is on the list coming in at number 49. But the study concludes that in general identity fraud rates are declining in the South.
There is a lot more interesting details in the report that are definitely worth checking out when you get a chance.
Some folks over at InfoWorld are really championing the prevent identity theft cause these days.
Today Mario Apicella wrote a piece on his personal story with identity theft and the legislation the DOJ has drawn up to combat identity theft. And last Friday, Robert Grimes had commentary disputing some of the GAO’s report that concluded identity theft isn’t really a problem but that the process of notifying consumers whenever their personal financial information has been compromised is. (His sarcasm is really evident just in the headline: Identity Theft? What identity theft?)
Of course I can see how the GAO came to this conclusion because incidents of identity theft can go undetected for years. But I’m thankful to see that the DOJ is taking the strategic plan of the President’s task force to heart and being proactive in protecting both businesses and consumers.
I particularly liked Mario’s slant on the action that should be taken:
“Companies must do their part in combating identity theft – not just wait until mandated by law.”
Yep. We do. And it involves company culture. Protecting and preventing identity theft is not just a back office IT concern. It’s also a customer service concern because protecting a business should focus on protecting your consumers. This leads to a sales and marketing concern since happy customers often drive more sales. Of course, finance is already concerned because of the losses and costs associated with identity theft. And then finally HR is concerned since employees are the one’s delivering all the above.
Really I don’t see any part of a business that should not be concerned with the impact of identity theft and wanting to be proactive about preventing it.