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10 tip consumers should do to be more secure this holiday

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HARRISBURG, Pa., — The Department of Banking and Securities offers consumers 10 tips to protect their money and personal information from computer hackers during the holiday shopping season.¬†Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Banking and Securities Robin L. Wiessmann have made consumer financial protection a top priority, starting with the establishment of the Administration’s new Consumer Financial Protection Initiative.

“People are using their computers and smartphones to shop more than ever,” said Secretary Wiessmann. “We are also seeing cyberattacks increasing. However, consumers can take 10 simple and easy-to-follow steps to help protect themselves from cyberthieves.”

The 10 steps include:

  • Do not respond to emails or phone calls from strangers or unknown businesses that request your personal information;
  • Create “strong passwords” for your online transactions: at least 8 characters in length with a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Also, choose word combinations not found in the dictionary;
  • Use different user names and passwords for your checking and shopping accounts;
  • Avoid shopping using unsecured, public wireless networks, such as those found in airports, coffee shops, and hotels;
  • Look for a small lock icon somewhere on your browser;
  • When making online payments, double-check that the web address begins with “https”;
  • After completing your online transaction, log out of your account and close your Web browser;
  • Secure your smartphone and computer with a screen lock and/or “power-on” password;
  • Make sure your security software is updated regularly; and
  • Review your financial and shopping statements and immediately report any suspicious activity.

Consumers who believe their financial accounts have been hacked can file a complaint with the PA Attorney General at 1-800-441-2555 and the Federal Trade Commission at or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT. Consumers can also contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to have a fraud alert placed on their credit reports. The agencies are Experian (1-888-397-3742), Equifax (1-800-525-6285) and TransUnion (1-800-680-7289).

Consumers can also call the Department of Banking and Securities consumer hotline (1-800-PA-BANKS) to file a complaint or ask questions about financial products, transactions, or companies, or to discuss their situation confidentially with a trained professional.