Identity theft can happen to anyone at any time. However, people are more susceptible to identity theft during the holiday season. This is mostly because people are not only shopping more during this season, but also doing so in a distracted manner. In this article, we will explore simple tips you can use to protect yourself from holiday identity theft.
Let’s dig in:
Use a secure network
Avoid using public Wi-Fi when shopping online or logging into your financial accounts. A network that is not secure puts your personal information, such as your credit card number, at risk. Consider using a VPN service when connecting to the internet using pubic Wi-Fi. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your internet traffic and directs it through a secure and private network.
Only carry what you need
Are you fond of carrying all your credit cards and your social security card in one wallet? If you do, it’s time to start carrying only the essentials. While having everything with you might seem convenient, it’s the perfect set up for identity theft. Keep the documents you carry with you to a minimum.
Choose cash or credit over debit
Credit card companies monitor suspicious charges. This makes them more secure to use than debit cards, since debit cards only withdraw money from your account without offering the same level of protection.
Use trustworthy online shopping sites
There are signs that can help you gauge the security of a website. For instance, HTTPS in the web address and a locked padlock on the far left side of the website URL show that a site is secure.
To avoid phishing scams, you should also be careful about the promotional emails you receive in your inbox. Double check to ensure that the promotional links in such emails do not lead to altered links. These altered links might at first sight appear to be legitimate websites.
Be vigilant when opening new retail credit accounts
Sometimes retail stores will offer you gifts and other incentives if you open a credit card account with them. However, you should be extra careful when giving out your information.
Ensure that no one is looking over your shoulder when writing down your details, and that there are no devices attached to the card reader that could skim your cards. You should also ask the sales assistant how they intend to discard your personal information once they have entered it into their system.
Keep your software updated
Software updates can seem like a drag, but they are meant to protect you from new security threats. If you see a message asking you to upgrade your software or operating system, do it right away. This way, you will always have the most up to date software, and will always be protected.
The holiday season means that people are on the search for the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Unfortunately, fraudsters are also on a hunting spree: for your information. Although it’s not possible to completely protect yourself from identity theft, the steps we have discussed today can go a long way towards keeping your information safe.