FACTSHEET | Feb. 13, 2018


Shoulder surfing is using direct observation, such as looking over someone’s shoulder while they are using mobile computing devices or conducting transactions in public. Identity thieves may be watching or listening to get their personal information from people engaging in activities such as;

  • Keying in passwords on their mobile devices or public-use computers (as in libraries or internet cafes)
  • Filling out personal information on forms
  • Entering a PIN code at an automated teller or point-of-sale machine
  • Verbally confirming hotel, rental car, or credit card information on a cell phone


How does “shoulder surfing” happen?


There are many ways eavesdroppers can nab personal information from unwitting victims. They may actually look over your shoulder, listen nearby, or shoot video with a cell phone as you enter your data or conduct a transaction.  Shoulder surfing is particularly effective in public places where it is fairly easy to observe people in crowded, often chaotic, environments.


How do I protect myself from “shoulder surfing?”


There are several ways to minimize your risk:

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times
  • Find a quiet spot at the outer fringes of a crowded area. A spot where you can sit or stand with your back to the wall is best
  • Avoid engaging personal, business, or financial matters in public
  • Never verbalize passwords or security codes
  • Use a security screen or filter to obscure the visibility of your monitor


For more, visit http://www.staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online