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‘Tis the season to be careful! With the holidays approaching, we need to be more vigilant than ever about identity theft. According to a Bankrate survey, most people are scared of identity theft, but still engage in conduct that leave their identity exposed. Here are some ways you can avoid being victimized.
Be Wary of Unsolicited Phone Calls and Emails that Have Links
Thieves will often send emails that appear to be from popular retailers that contain altered URLs. People who click on this link are sent to a fake site which collects personal information. Adam Levin, author of the book “Swiped” says, “They might send you a promo email from what looks like Target and it asks you to enter credit card information, Then, bingo, they’ve just stolen your data. Or it might say,’Do you want to apply for a store card…. and then you apply and don’t realize you’ve just given away your Social Security number.”
If you get a call from a marketer or from someone who claims to be from your bank checking on a fraudulent charge, Levin suggests hanging up and calling the number on the back of your card to make sure you are speaking to your actual bank.
When shopping online, double check that your on the right app or website. “People clone websites,” says Levin, He advises that you check that there is a “lock” system on the left side of the URL confirming the site is secure.
Review Account Statements
While it is always a good idea to check your credit card statement monthly, Levin suggests that you do so more often around the holidays so you can report suspicious activity more quickly and have the card deactivated immediately. Joe Loomis, CEO of CyberSponse also suggests looking carefully for small charges. He says some thieves steal very small amounts at a time, maybe even under $2, “The sheer volume over the course of a credit card’s life adds up.” He notes that consumers are not as likely to notice small charges, especially around the holidays when credit card activity is high.
Use Your Credit Card Instead of Your Debit Card
Loomis says, “You don’t want to use your debit card. It pulls the capital directly out of your account.” Credit cards are better protected because companies give full protection from erroneous charges as long as you report problems within 90 days.
Don’t Shop at a Coffee Shop
Jason Glassberg, co-founder of Casaba Security says, “Don’t make transactions within public Wi-Fi networks.” Criminals can access information that passes throughout the network. “People forget their phones and tablet are just computers too. You’re no safer using your phone than you are using your laptop if you’re connected to a wireless network.”
So shop it up this holiday season but be on your guard for grinches with greedy paws. Let us know how your staying safe this holiday. We love to hear about all your safe adventures!