Capital One Offers Important Tips for Consumers to Protect Themselves
from ID Theft and Fraud
MCLEAN, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 24, 2009--
With the holiday season just around the corner, consumers are already on
the hunt for the best bargains. While the bulk of holiday sales still
occur in brick-and-mortar stores, surveys suggest most consumers will
also go online to find deals on holiday gifts. A recent MarketLive
survey reports that 55 percent of consumers plan to shop online for
holiday gifts, compared to 49 percent last year, and 26 percent plan to
spend more online this year compared to last year. In advance of Black
Friday and Cyber Monday, blogs and social networking sites are buzzing
with coupons and promotions. But while online shopping can help
consumers find great deals, it can also make them more vulnerable to
identify theft and scams.
“Shopping online is a great way to comparison shop and save money, but
we encourage all consumers to be vigilant,” said Shelley Solheim,
Director of Financial Education, Capital One. “By taking a few simple
steps, shoppers can help protect themselves both online and in stores
and safeguard their personal information from identify thieves.”
To protect consumers against fraud during Black Friday and Cyber Monday
sales and throughout the holiday shopping season, Capital One offers
these simple tips.
When shopping online
Use secure online shopping sites – To ensure that your
information is protected when shopping online, look for an unbroken
key or padlock at the bottom of your web browser. When you’re asked to
provide payment information, the beginning of the Web site’s URL
address should change from http to shttp or https,
indicating that the purchase is encrypted or secured.
Check out the seller – Look for online merchants who are
members of a seal-of-approval program that sets voluntary guidelines
for privacy-related practices, such as TRUSTe (www.truste.org),
or BBBonline (www.bbbonline.org).
If it’s your first time on an unfamiliar site, call the seller’s phone
number, so you know you can reach them if you need to. If you can’t
find a working phone number, take your business elsewhere.
Use caution with social media – Social media sites like
Facebook and Twitter are increasingly used by retailers to promote new
deals and disseminate coupons. Unfortunately, scammers are also using
these sites, often masquerading as a friend to deliver malicious links
that can allow hackers to steal personal information. Keep this in
mind when using social media tools and be particularly suspicious of
messages or promotions you did not sign up to receive. Instead of
following links, go directly to the store’s website and navigate to
find the special sale item.
Never give out your account information or social security
number – Never respond to emails or instant messages that ask you
to provide account information for “verification.” Don’t follow links
to websites in such emails either. These are known as “phishing” scams
and are used to collect account information that can then be used for
Consider how you’ll pay – Credit cards generally are a safe
option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if
the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered. Don’t send cash
or use a money-wiring service because you’ll have no recourse if
something goes wrong.
Keep your password private – Many e-commerce web sites require
shoppers to log-in before viewing or placing an order. When selecting
a password, do not use commonly known information, such as your name,
birthdate, or numbers from your driver's license or Social Security
number. You should also refrain from reusing the same password for
Keep a paper trail – Print and save records of your online
transactions, including the product description and price, the online
receipt, and copies of any email you exchange with the seller. Read
your credit card statements as soon as you get them to make sure there
aren’t any unauthorized charges.
Use a secure computer – When you’re away from home, do not save
private information onto computers used by the public. If you're
accessing a private account at the library or another public place, be
sure to log out completely from your accounts, and do not save login
information (like your username or password) on these computers.
When at the mall
Streamline your wallet – Before shopping at the mall, clean out
your wallet and take only the credit cards, checks and/or cash that
you need for the day. Never carry your social security card in your
Be aware of your surroundings – Be conscious of other shoppers
standing nearby when you are making purchases. Identity thieves have
been known to copy credit card information or take pictures of cards
on their cell phones.
Hold on to your receipts – Keep receipts with you – and get
gift receipts that can be used for returns or exchanges. Shred
receipts after you’re certain the charges match to those on monthly
bank and credit card statements.
Don’t leave valuables in your car – Your car’s glove
compartment isn’t a secret hiding place. Wallets left in glove
compartments account for thousands of credit card thefts every year.
Watch out for “skimming” – “Skim Artists” are thieves who use
small electronic devices, known as “skimmers” to capture a person’s
credit card information. When consumers make a purchase, their card is
first swiped through the legitimate machine but is also secretly
swiped through the smaller skimmer machine.
If you think you are a victim of identity theft
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports– Call one of the
three credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian or Equifax.
Report that you have been an identity theft victim and request a
“fraud alert” and/or victim statement to be placed on your credit
file. The company you call is required to contact the other two.
Close the accounts that you believe have been tampered with or
opened fraudulently – Contact someone in the security or fraud
department of each company, and follow up in writing.
File a police report – Call your local police department to
file a report. List any suspects that could have committed the crime.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission– You can
file a complaint with the FTC using the online complaint form, or call
the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline – 1-877-ID-THEFT.
Consumers can find more information about how to avoid becoming a victim
of identity theft and what to do if they do fall victim in a free guide
from Capital One and national consumer advocacy group Consumer Action
called ID Theft/Account Fraud Prevention and Clean Up – available
About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com)
is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital
One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., had $114.5 billion in
deposits and $209.7 billion in total managed assets outstanding as of
September 30, 2009. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One
offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers,
small businesses and commercial clients. Capital One, N.A. has
approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey,
Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. A
Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange
under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 100 index.
Source: Capital One Financial Corporation
Shelley Solheim 917.589.6203