Marketing experts predicted this sales season to have had a 4% boost compared to last year, including an 8.3% rise in online sales on Christmas Day. The boost is mostly in part due to smart phones. It is assumed that half of all transactions this holiday season had something to do with a mobile device. So, not only does this mean you might have bought a device or an application for your mobile device, but you also may have used online coupons.

Keeping that in mind, here are some things to look out for. Please remember that your personally identifiable information (PII) is critical to you and you must protect it. PII includes things like your address, credit card number, banking information, etc.. Be aware of your PII and protect your pin #’s from the different exposures.

The two basic exposures are your online and in-store shopping experiences. Your online shopping purchases may expose your credit card and personal identification information. Be mindful of what device you shop from and that you are sure it will not store the information you’re using. Try to use your own personal device and after your purchases, be sure to clear the cache on your browser and then completely close the browser. This would be smart to do year round, but especially after a busy holiday season.

Your in-store purchases probably involved you using a credit card. Be mindful of protecting the pin # from prying eyes by covering the typing hand with your other hand. Also, as a general rule, please remember to use strong (complex) passwords and change them on a regular basis.

We can expect in 2015 for the big box retailers to eventually roll out the chip & pin credit card technology which will add additional layers of security. Our current credit cards in the U.S. are primarily limited to the signature line and magnetic strip which are both susceptible to duplication. The chip & pin technology will introduce one-time-use technology for credit card transactions which will essentially make duplication efforts useless. Be sure to keep an eye out for the chip & pin credit card offers from your credit card company and sign up.

From all of us in Chapman University’s IS&T department, have a happy New Year and a wonderful Spring Semester in 2015!