Protect Your Identity this Holiday Season, 9 Tips You Need to Know
The holiday season is approaching, and the risk of identity theft can greatly increase with holiday shopping. You have prepared your holiday shopping list and bought the perfect gifts.
However, are you putting yourself at risk for identity theft while shopping this holiday season? You might be but there are precautions you can take that may help protect you during the holiday rush.
Consider these 9 tips:
- Use cash when shopping. When shopping, opt to leave your credit and debit cards at home. If you accidentally leave a card at the cash register or your purse is stolen, you won’t have to worry about your stolen account information.
- Similarly, use a prepaid card. Using prepaid debit cards or gift cards can prevent your account information from being stolen. Choosing to use prepaid cards protects your money because you can choose how much is on each card. If a prepaid card is lost or stolen, you won’t have to worry about identity theft.
- Leave the checks at home. If you normally use checks, it might be worth leaving them at home and choosing a different method of payment. Checks have your account information located on them. This gives identity thieves the ability to make purchases with your account and withdraw funds.
- Leave your Social Security card at home. Your Social Security number can be used to open new accounts and gain access to old ones. Leave your Social Security card at home in a safe place. If an identity thief does steal your Social Security number, keeping an eye on your credit and monitoring your accounts is an important step in protecting your identity.
- Check your other cards, too. Your Social Security card isn’t the only card to consider leaving at home. You will want to check your other cards for personal information. Check for things like your address, account numbers, and insurance cards that may have your Social Security number.
- Use a password manager. When you're holiday shopping you may log into accounts that you only use during the holiday season. Sometimes that leaves you guessing what your passwords are. You may be writing them down. Instead, use a password manager. This gives you a safe and secure way to store your passwords without writing them down that a potential thief could steal.
- Be cautious when using public WiFi. Holiday shopping means long lines and spending time on our phones to keep us busy. Stores often have WiFi for users to access while they visit but they aren’t always secure. When connecting to public WiFi make sure it is coming from a reliable source. Avoid logging into accounts with sensitive information or making purchases that may leave your payment information available to others.
- Avoid giving out your personal information. Stores often have store rewards cards, coupon listings, credit card offers, and email listings available to you at the cash register. While the savings can be great with some of the offers, the information you are giving out is priceless. Your address, phone number, Social Security number, email address, name, date of birth, and more could be on all of these forms. Identity thieves could steal the applications, or closely watch you fill out the form and write down the information. If you do decide to sign up for one of these offers you may want to ask the store employee about their practices for disposing of this information and how they keep it protected in the meantime. Moreover, when filling it out watch for people that may be trying to steal the information.
- Keep your purse close. If you are going to carry a purse keep it close to your body. Wear the strap across your body and shorten it to make it difficult for thieves to take from you. Try to avoid wearing your purse on your shoulder. If this is difficult to do, try attaching it to your shopping cart. Lastly, shopping with a purse can be convenient but you should take out anything that contains your personal information.
Even though holiday shopping can be fun, keeping your information secure and safe keeps the fun going. If you take the steps necessary, you may be able to keep yourself from being a victim of identity theft. If you do find yourself a victim of identity fraud, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) for more information.
For more protection tips, you'll want to read: