In a week, consumers will flock to their nearest shopping malls in droves for the start of the holiday shopping season. But with newly released research from PCI Pal showing American consumers are still engaging in risky behaviors with their personal data, many will need to clean up their act or risk getting a whole lot worse than a lump of coal in their stockings this year.
To better understand American consumers’ security habits, PCI Pal recently conducted a 1,000 person study examining their security behaviors online and over the phone. The results show that despite almost half of Americans having suffered a data breach, many are still practicing unsafe behaviors with their personal data – engaging in the following 7 Seasonal Security Sins that could leave their sensitive financial information exposed to hackers:
- Despite being a well-known security hiccup and a leading cause of cybercrime, almost half (47%) of Americans report using the same password across multiple sites and apps. To better protect your data, update passwords regularly with unique and random passwords across accounts. Using one of the various password managers available online can also help with this.
- 45% of American consumers can’t resist a good shopping deal… even if it means taking advantage of it over unsafe public WiFi. For consumers that admit to accessing sensitive payment information over public or free WiFi, the risk could result in that information being stolen ‘in transit’ before the purchase is confirmed. As tempting as it can be to use public WiFi when service is low, remember that the risk may not be worth the reward. Wait to shop those online Black Friday deals until you’re home or on a secure WiFi network.
- 44% admit that they don’t always check the credentials of the customer service representative they are engaging with – giving sensitive information such as payment data to relative strangers. When speaking with a customer service agent, make sure you’re using the phone number from the company’s website. If a customer service agent contacts you, hang up and call them back using a number you trust.
- 35.4% report accepting unsolicited friend requests via social media, giving potential fraudsters access to all kinds of personal data that could be used for credit card applications… or even to hack the various accounts consumers use the same passwords on! To avoid this, only accept friend requests from people you know. And remember that if a request seems suspicious, it’s better to play it safe and deny or ignore the request than risk sharing your personal information with a stranger.
- Almost a third report clicking through links or downloading attachments of unknown origin – allowing hackers to install malware to gain access to sensitive data. To avoid falling victim to this leading cause of cyber compromise, double check the sender address to ensure you are only clicking links and downloading attachments from contacts you trust.
- 28% of respondents report sharing personal information on social media profiles, leaving them open to identity theft and other risks (especially for those that are also engaging in sin #4!). Prevent this by ensuring your social media settings are locked down so your personal information is accessible only to those you trust.
- 23% report they have never used two-factor authentication to protect passwords and payments, while 53% offered that they ‘sometimes’ use it and only 24% confirmed they always use it. Most popular services now offer some form of two-factor authentication. Make sure you turn it on for an added layer of protection!
View our infographic on The Seven Security Sins of US Consumers.
Are you being naughty or nice with your personal data this year? Before you start your holiday shopping, make sure your data is secure or you may end up with a very un-merry holiday surprise. And for businesses operating contact centers, contact PCI Pal today to learn how we can help you protect your customers’ sensitive information, no matter how sinful they may be this holiday season.