The holidays are the best time of the year. It is a time to celebrate with your family and friends and to give and receive gifts. However, the holidays are also the best time for the identity thieves as they get to commit holiday identity theft.They also get their own holiday gift. The gift is the identity and credit of other people.
Avoid becoming a statistic during the holiday season. Be extra careful when it comes to protecting your identities. Don’t let identity thieves ruin your holiday spirit. While holiday identity theft is a real threat to you, it doesn’t have to ruin your holidays. There are some simple measures you can take to protect yourself while shopping for the holidays – be it online or in stores. Even when you’re busy doing your holiday shopping, keep in mind the following measures:
Protecting Yourself From Holiday Identity Theft While Shopping In Stores
- Be alert
Always have a constant awareness of your surroundings. You surely don’t want to lose your purse. Beware of pickpockets and keep your purse in an inside coat pocket or any other safe place, else you might become a victim of holiday identity theft.
- Beware of Shoulder Surfers
Whenever you are entering a password or a PIN, there could be a person peeking at your shoulder and gathering your information. Guard your information from such “shoulder surfers” by covering the swipe machine with your other hand.
- Protect your belongings
Never leave your phone, wallet, laptop, or any other belonging in your car while shopping or it could be a “holiday gift” for the thief. If someone breaks into your car, not only you will lose your precious belongings but also your personal information stored in them.
- Use credit over debit
Now, this could be a surprise for you, but yes, credit cards are safer than debit cards when it comes to shopping. This is due to the fact that credit card companies regularly monitor suspicious activities and can end fraudulent charges before they happen. On the other hand, debit card immediately withdraws money from your account and as it is linked with your bank account, a thief can immediately wipe your account if he gets access to your details.
- Stick to one card
This is an obvious solution for easily monitoring fraudulent charges. The less number of cards you use, the less you need to track and fewer chances of getting your information compromised.
- Save the receipts
Don’t immediately throw the receipts when you shop. Keep them with you to verify the charges along with the items you bought. Also, when you have verified the receipts, dispose of them only after shredding them or tearing in multiple pieces. This way identity thieves cannot access your information.
Protecting Yourself From Holiday Identity Theft While Shopping Online
- Stick to known merchants
It is exciting to shop from new online merchants, especially when they have unbelievable offers. But, at the same time, new merchants could be very risky. It is better to shop from known merchants, but if still, you want to try new merchants, make a quick research about them before making a purchase.
- Be Cautious of Craigslist Sellers
Sellers on Craigslist are an unknown to you and can pose a risk when it comes to holiday shopping. Meet the sellers only in safe, public places. Also, request proof of ownership of the product from the seller.
- Beware of open networks
Never ever make a transaction on open or unknown networks. These networks are highly insecure as the information sent through them is not encrypted and can be hacked by hackers.
- Look for “https”
Whenever making payments, make sure the URL of the website starts with “https” and not “http” or you could become a victim of online transaction fraud. “https” ensures a secure connection.
- Change passwords often
Regularly change passwords of your accounts on e-commerce websites and online banking accounts. Do not use same passwords for all accounts.
- Use cyber-security software
Install a good cyber-security software on your computer and mobile devices. Also, make sure to regularly update them.
Other Protection Measures
- Check your account statements
Regularly monitor your accounts by going online and reviewing them each week. If you notice anything suspicious, report it immediately to your bank.
- Shred, shred, and shred
Make it a rule. Before disposing of any document, just shred it first. These documents could be store receipts, letters, envelopes, credit card offers, insurance documents, ATM receipts, electricity bills, etc.
- Secure documents even at home
Unfortunately, many times an identity thief is someone we know. During the holidays, many guests arrive at your home. Store all your personal and important documents and devices at a safe place. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
No matter, where you shop and how you shop, either way, you are at risk of identity theft. But by taking simple precautions, you can protect yourself from holiday identity theft. Don’t let identity thieves turn your holiday shopping experience into a nightmare. Just, keep in mind these protection measures to protect your identity.