With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from identity theft. In fact, according to Javelin’s latest Identity Fraud Study, 13.1 million U.S. consumers were victims of identity fraud last year, many of which were targeted throughout the months of November and December. To prevent this from happening to you this holiday season, take a look at our ten ways to protect your identity throughout the upcoming months.
Ten Ways To Protect Your Identity
- Be smart when you shop, especially online: Before you make an online purchase, check the website for a “lock” symbol on the left side of the site’s URL. This means the website is secure and your credit card information will remain safe after you checkout.
- Beware of emails with malicious links: This is an exceedingly popular way for thieves to steal your identity. Similar to the new app ID theft, cybercriminals may try to steal your information through seemingly legitimate emails from popular retail stores, such as Target. Although the solicited coupon codes may be tempting to download, do NOT click any the attachments in these emails. This will instantly install some form of malware onto your computer, which may lead to you losing all of your computer’s most important information.
- Constantly review your account statements: Although this will not completely prevent identity theft from occurring, it will certainly protect your debit and credit cards from petty theft – or someone using your credit card information to make continuous purchases. You should also make sure to check your credit score. When you check your report, you will be able to see any suspicious accounts, activities, and addresses that you do not recognize.
- Hang up any unsolicited phone calls: If you receive a phone call from a marketer asking for credit card information or someone claiming to be your bank who would like to check a fraudulent charge, hang up the phone and dial the number on your bank card. This will ensure that you are speaking to the correct banker, rather than an impersonator.
- Do NOT make online purchases on public Wi-Fi networks: When you make a transaction on a public Wi-Fi network, any criminal can easily access the transferred information. Remember: this includes phones and tablets too!
- Refrain from signing up for new retail cards: Before making a big holiday purchase, many shoppers are tempted to open new retail-branded credit cards to score a bigger discount. On many applications, however, you are instructed to provide your social security number. Once the application is turned in, the employee you just spoke with could simply take a picture of the information on this application and use it for their own holiday shopping.
- Limit your social media sharing: Social media sites are highly targeted by cybercriminals, as identity theft and phishing attacks all begin with personal data on individuals. To prevent these criminals from stealing your information, ensure that the highest security settings are selected for each account. If possible, do not allow the public to see or access any personal information.
- Mind your mailboxes: Empty your mailbox, including your e-mail mailbox, on a regular basis. Although it is a federal crime to steal another person’s mail, this is still a common target for identity thieves.
- Change all usernames and passwords: Before you begin your online shopping, it’s first important to strengthen all of your usernames and passwords. Make sure you do NOT incorporate any personal information into your username and double check that your password reaches the highest level of protection. Your password will be much more difficult to crack if it is more than 8 characters long and includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and non alpha characters.
- Sign up for a company security checkup: Your individual identity is not the only target for hackers and thieves; your company’s identity is just as vulnerable. Make sure to sign up for a company security checkup before the holiday season is in full swing. Our on-site security assessment may just prevent a breach in your network.