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Shop safe this season: Protect your holiday dollars from hackers

Director of Information Security at Johnson and Wales University, Nicholas Tella, said it's only a matter of time before another company announces it has inadvertently exposed customers' credit card numbers, birthdays or social security numbers. (MGN)

These days, data breaches are part of the news cycle.

Major retailers like Target, Home Depot and credit reporting agency, Equifax, have all been hit by hackers.

Just this week, we learned millions of people who use the ridesharing app Uber had their personal information exposed.

Director of Information Security at Johnson and Wales University, Nicholas Tella, said it's only a matter of time before another company announces it has inadvertently exposed customers' credit card numbers, birthdays or social security numbers.

“During the holiday shopping season, the amount of transactions is so high, the odds are greater that something is going to occur,” warned Tella.

So, stop trusting retailers to keep your information safe.

“You can't solely rely upon retailers because we know they're vulnerable, but the consumer can do a lot to protect their data,” said Tella.

Obviously, shopping with cash is your safest option, but that's impossible to do online.

Tella recommended two third-party applications, which is known for protecting consumer data.

“Apple Pay for in person transactions, where your credit card information is never exposed,” suggested Tella. “Or you can use PayPal for online purchases.”

If a retailer doesn't accept either, use credit. Debit cards offer less protection.

“And it also can provide basically a runway into your checking account,” warned Tella.

Tella said even seemingly safe websites with the words, "https," in the URL can be compromised.

He also recommended creating a separate email account, solely for online shopping.

“That way, if that account is compromised, all your personal contacts, all the data you would normally maintain in an email account is not exposed,” said Tella.

Most banks and credit card companies also offer free alerts that notify consumers when their card is used. Tella suggests consumers take advantage.

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