Protecting Yourself From Holiday Identity Theft
- December 12, 2019
- By: Greenpath Financial Wellness
Action steps for staying ahead of identity thieves this holiday season
The holiday season is a time when people are more vulnerable to identity theft scams. Not only are people making more purchases than any other time of year, but they are often distracted when doing so.
During the holiday season, stores and shopping malls are bustling with people – especially at peak shopping times during evenings and weekends. When shoppers are focused on their gift lists, looking for bargains, or tending to the kids, attention might not be on security.
When shopping online, it might be tempting to shop using mobile devices in public settings. That might open up risk in terms of online security.
With rapidly rising prices and higher cost of interest, many analysts see that people are looking for bargains to help reign in holiday spending. When people are focused on bargains, they might be tempted to log onto less than trustworthy websites.
Here are some tips to protect your identity during the holiday season:
Carry Only What You Need
Some of us have a tendency to carry all of our credit cards in our purses or wallets in addition to our social security card. This might seem convenient, but it is the perfect set up for identity theft. Keep the number of items you carry to a bare minimum. Use the rule of three: one credit card, your driver’s license or identity card, and your debit card. Never carry your social security card or any information that may have your social security number on it with you unless you will need it.
A false sense of security at work or at home could make you a prime target for identity thieves. Identity thieves can come in all forms, including co-workers, friends, and even trusted family members. To ensure the safety of cards you are not carrying with you, consider using a fireproof safe, safe deposit box, or lockable filing cabinet to house them.
Take Precautions Online
There is a relatively new form of identity theft on the rise called formjacking. Formjacking involves cybercriminals hijacking credit card information from online forms. Making purchases, paying bills, and filing taxes online is commonplace today. Here are a few steps you can take to boost your privacy and help in preventing fraud:
- Keep your software up-to-date.
- Never install unidentified software.
- Download only from trusted sites.
- Always use up-to-date anti-spyware and anti-virus software, and run weekly scans.
- Use firewalls on your network.
- Regularly update passwords/passphrases, and make each one unique and challenging to crack.
Take Swift Action When Documents Go Missing
If you notice that important financial items or documents such as credit/debit cards, drivers licenses, or loan agreements have gone missing, you will need to act fast to contact every organization or creditor that issued them. We recommend you take these important action steps if you feel your identity has been compromised:
- Pull your credit reports from annualcreditreport.com and review them for any suspicious activity.
- Close any accounts that you believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- Place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit reports, and check your credit reports regularly.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- File a report with the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Identity theft is a serious crime. It can be a time-consuming and costly process that seriously affects your life, so stay vigilant and take precautions.
Questions About Your Credit Report?
GreenPath’s NFCC-certified credit counselors can walk you through a free review of your credit report. We’ll explain how to read the report and how credit scoring works, and answer your questions. Together we can make a plan for managing your credit score to support your goals.