6 Tips for Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month
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Consumer spending and identity theft both spike during the holiday shopping season, which is why December is Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. In this blog, we offer six effective tips for keeping your identity safe over the holidays.
1. Collect Packages from Your Porch
Having packages delivered to your doorstep is convenient, but it comes with risk: if you’re not careful, someone can easily steal a delivered item from your porch. Set incoming shipment and delivery confirmation alerts with FedEx, UPS and the US Postal Service so you know when packages are delivered. For extra security, have your packages delivered to a PO Box. If you’re going to be out of town, contact shippers to place a hold on the delivery of your packages.
2. Shred Unwanted Documents
Receipts, credit card offers, and junk mail pile up over the holidays. Don’t just throw these items in the trash. Always shred any anything that has personally identifiable information (PII). Take your documents to a convenient drop-off shredding location where background-screened professionals will help you unload your car, shred your documents right there on site, and give you a Certificate of Destruction to take home.
3. Stay Mum on Social Media
Cybercriminals scour social media sites looking for carelessly-posted personal information. Don’t share your vacation plans on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Update your security settings so your social media posts are only shared with friends and family.
4. Be Careful When Swiping Your Cards
Americans make more credit card purchases in December than any other month. To make sure your personal information isn’t hacked at a retail point of sale (POS) terminal, always use the chip reader, when available, instead of swiping your card. If entering a PIN number, be sure to shield it from prying eyes. For ultimate identity protection, use cash when making your gift purchases.
5. Monitor Your Credit
Regularly monitoring your credit is one of the most effective ways to thwart identity theft. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus. Request yours at the end of the year and carefully read your credit report for any fraudulent activity.
6. Stay Safe Online
Cybercriminals send fraudulent emails pretending to be legitimate retailers during the holiday season. Scam emails often contain malicious links with malware. To avoid having your identity stolen online, look out for emails with grammar or spelling errors and blank “To” fields. Never click on links or attachments before verifying whether the sender is legitimate.