Tech Tuesday: Protecting yourself from identity theft

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- With the holiday season upon us, your debit cards, credit cards and mobile devices may be getting more use than normal. This can make your more susceptible to identity theft during the holidays.

Photo: Pexels

AT&T's Caleb Drolshagen has several tips to avoid falling victim:

It can be tempting to jump on a public WI-FI network to avoid using your smartphone data, but when it comes to online shopping, or any activity that requires you to share sensitive personal information, don't do it. Public WI-FI networks are often un-encrypted and unsecured, leaving you vulnerable to hackers and malware.

Even when shopping online via secured network, whether on your smartphone, tablet or computer, double-check that you're on the correct website or app. Thieves can clone websites, so before you check out or enter your credit card information, make sure there is a "lock" symbol on the left side of the URL, which confirms it's a secure site.

Considering how many times you pull out your mobile device while holiday shopping, you're at greater risk of leaving it laying somewhere. In order to prevent unauthorized access, make sure your device auto-locks when it's not in use. Use a strong passcode, or a fingerprint, to unlock it. Also, consider enabling a find my phone app on your device, so that if you do lose it, you can log in on another device to see the lost phone's whereabouts. If your phone has been stolen, it's likely the person will turn it off immediately so that you cannot locate it using a tracking app. The good news is you can remotely wipe your device.

Payment options such as apple pay and android pay let you shop with your smartphone at retailers through certain apps. Instead of swiping or chipping your credit cards, you tap your phone, which transmits a unique code to the retailer for each purchase that is useless to fraudsters.

Many of us use the same password for multiple online accounts, and that can make it easy for thieves to take over your accounts. Instead, use a different password for each of your online shopping accounts. That way, if a thief grabs your user name and password from one website, they won't be able to go on a shopping spree with your other accounts.

A common tactic thieves use to steal your personal information is phishing. The thieves send you an email that appears to be from a legitimate source, like a popular retailer, which contains an altered URL. When you click on the link, you're sent to a fake website designed to collect your personal information. Remember, never give out personal information online unless you initiated contact with the company.