• December 8, 2017
  • Posted by General Electric Credit Union
  • 4 read

7 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft this Holiday Season

While we may not want to think about identity theft, unfortunately, criminals are on the prowl during the holiday season. It’s important to stay alert and prevent identity theft in any way possible to mitigate the risk and protect yourself during this time of heightened risk.

How to protect your accounts this holiday season

Beware of email scams

Scammers can attempt to access personal information by sending fake emails that look as if they were sent by a reputable business. Be aware of any emails that come from suspicious senders and don’t open any attachments or click links.

Double-check before shopping online

Shopping online is a convenient way to get through your holiday lists. Before entering your payment information, take a second to make sure you’re using the correct website. Scammers can clone website pages with a similar domain name and send an email directing you to a fake page and collect your information.

Always navigate to the website by typing in the name into your browser versus clicking on a link in the email in case the email is a scam. Additionally, when on a website, check the page is secure before entering information. Any website asking you to enter payment information should have a URL beginning with “https” versus “http” and will have a small padlock in the browser’s bar.

Review account statements

Around the holidays, review your bank and credit card statements line by line to ensure there is no suspicious activity. Consider making this a habit year-round to aware of all charges and catch fraud as soon as it happens. Report any unfamiliar activity to your financial institution as soon as possible.

Avoid shopping through public Wi-Fi

There are a variety of risks when using public Wi-Fi including weaker security meaning it’s easier for hackers to gain access to the Wi-Fi and your computer to steal your information. If you’re shopping on-the-go or at a local coffee shop, the safest option is to turn off your Wi-Fi to ensure you’re using data and protecting yourself from potential hackers. As a general rule of thumb, accessing anything regarding your personal information under free Wi-Fi is not advised.

Update login information

One of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to your information is by guessing your username and password for banking or shopping sites with your stored payment information. In general, you should update your password on a regular basis. Avoid using former passwords or common phrases, names, or dates that someone could guess.

Shred documents

Shredding any paper with personal or account information, including: credit card statements, receipts, or bank statements will help protect your identity from thieves. Even junk mail can contain barcodes with information about you. Consider opting for electronic bills and statements whenever possible to reduce the amount of mail in your mailbox with details thieves are looking for.

Monitor accounts online

Accessing your financial accounts through your mobile phone is another way you can stay on top of your money. Check in periodically and set up alerts to help you not only limit spending, but also have the opportunity to find any irregularities.

This holiday season, take a moment to re-evaluate your everyday routines and see how you can make minor changes to protect yourself from identity theft.

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