Photo: Mitt Romney 2012
It’s easier than ever to donate to political campaigns online, but consumers should make sure they’re not jeopardizing their financial security in the process. Presidential-hopeful Mitty Romney’s own political action committee was blasted in a recent report by the Washington Times.
A team of security analysts did some digging and found security for the fund, Restore Our Future, was slack enough for any amateur hacker to access donor’s credit card information simply by using the same Wi-Fi network.
The fund’s since improved its website security, but not before hundreds of donors were put at risk.
“Campaigns are typically being run on shoestring budgets, and they all want to spend as much money as possible on advertising,” David J. Shannon, a Philadelphia-based data security lawyer, told CreditCards.com. “So you have to wonder, are they spending the money to hire experienced IT consultants to make sure they have adequate security? Or are these sites being set up by young, idealistic volunteers who might not know what they’re doing?”
We reached out to Brian Krebs, a data security expert and founder of Krebsonsecurity.com, for advice on how to safely donate without putting your life savings at risk – whether it’s for a super PAC or your niece’s school fundraiser:
“Look for the https:// in the browser bar anytime you enter sensitive information into a browser,” he said. “Avoid entering sensitive information whenever possible while on relatively open network, such as a hotel or public wifi network. If you’d like to donate to a cause but do not see the https:// in the URL, make your donation over the phone, and let them know you’d like them to take security more seriously.”
If you’re determined to go the cashless route, pay by credit card at the very least. Credit offers more protections than debit card transactions, so if any fraud occurs, you’ll most likely be off the hook.