The holidays may be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but your festive fun can come to a screeching halt if you don’t take extra precaution to protect yourself from identity fraud. These simple tips will help you avoid theft, whether you’re running holiday errands, shopping online for gifts, or out socializing for the season.
What Is Identity Fraud?
The first step to preventing identity fraud is knowing what you’re up against. Identity fraud comes in many forms. The most common types occur when your credit card or account information is used without your consent or when someone obtains your personal information and uses it to access your accounts, open new accounts or credit cards, or take out loans in your name.
Stay safe with these tips, so your only holiday surprises come wrapped and in a box—not on your credit card or bank statement.
8 Tips to Prevent Identity Fraud
1. Lighten Your Wallet — Be smart about what’s in your wallet while you’re holiday shopping. Leave the personal info you don’t need at home and take only the credit cards you plan to use. If you do lose your wallet or purse—or it gets stolen—you’ll have less to worry about.
2. Shop Secure Sites — Before you go crazy on Cyber Monday deals, check to make sure you’re shopping on a safe site by taking a look at the website URL. If it begins with “https” instead of “http,” the site is using an SSL Certificate and you should be in good shape. If you don’t see “https,” shop elsewhere.
3. Be Aware — When making an ATM transaction or sharing personal information over the phone, make sure you’re in a secure space where no one can snap a picture or overhear your conversation. And never provide personal information to unknown callers over the phone. If you’re unsure about their identity, don’t hesitate to ask for their number and call them back once you’ve confirmed the source of the call.
4. Monitor Your Credit Activity – Keep tabs on activity that impacts your credit report and ensure it’s accurate. CreditWise is a free service that provides bureau alerts that flag changes that could indicate fraud, such as opening a new account or a change of address.
5. Guard Your Social Security Number — Don’t take any chances with your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet and remove the number from all checks and any documents you carry around. Shred any mail or papers that might have your SSN on it.
6. Check Your Bills and Statements — Take time every few days to check your accounts for fraudulent charges. Banks and credit card companies have safeguards in place to catch potential fraud, but only you will recognize every transaction.
7. Keep Tabs On Your Mailbox — Checking your mail daily is a must, not only for the cute holiday cards, but also for your security. During this time of year, identity thieves will target mailboxes for personal information or pre-approved credit offers. Package theft from the front porch or doorstep is also on the rise. You can prevent theft by actively checking your mailbox, requiring a signature on delivery and having packages sent to your workplace or a secure location. If you’re mailing sensitive information, don’t leave it sitting in an unsecure mailbox. Take it straight to the post office or drop it in a postal box.
8. Pass On Public Wi-Fi — When you’re taking a break from shopping, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi. It can put your information at risk. And definitely save online shopping for your protected home network—it’s way safer.
What To Do If You Do Experience Fraud
Identity fraud is no fun. But if it does crash your holiday plans, don’t fret. Just take action immediately. Contact your creditors and banks to let them know your security has been compromised.
● Close any accounts you didn’t open. Ask your financial partners to decline any new accounts you didn’t request.
● Cancel any cards and bank accounts associated with fraud.
● Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus to report the theft. Carefully review your credit reports to make sure no additional accounts have been opened in your name, and ask for a “fraud alert” to be placed on your file.
● Take extra precautions when updating your PINs and passwords.
● Keep a record of everything—the fraudulent charges and your incident-report conversations.
Learn more about how to deal with identity theft.
Our commitment to protecting your personal and financial information is unwavering. And if your information ever does fall into the wrong hands? We’ll make it right so you can move on with confidence.
Lastly, Enjoy the Holidays
You don’t have to go off the grid to keep your finances safe. Just be smart and stay aware. Enjoy the holidays and embrace the season of giving.