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Holidays and Identity Theft

It is that time of year!  The hustle and bustle of the holidays!  Is everything ready?  The food, the gifts, the travel plans?  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanza, and New Year’s, the stressors are always the same, but are you thinking about your financial safety?

In 2016, according to USA Today, identity theft rose by 31% during the holiday season.  Thieves are always finding new and inventive ways to hack your identity.  Here are some tips to protect yourself this holiday season according to http://ncesnow.org/prevent-identity-theft-during-holidays/:

  • Pass on the Store Card Applications
    • The 10% off is tempting, but so is your personal information you are giving the sales clerk to thieves.
  • Be on the Lookout for Skimmers
    • Skimmers are little devices that are mainly found at Gas Pumps and ATMs. These devices capture your card information so thieves can either create duplicate cards or to shop online.  Check the machine for anything out of the ordinary, do not use that machine and report it to the store or financial institution immediately.
  • Check Your Accounts Frequently
    • Checking your accounts frequently will allow you to see any fraudulent charges immediately. This will prevent the thieves from doing any further damage.  You can check your account through It’s Me 247 Online Banking or our mobile app.  Also set up an e-alert or text alert for your account balances.
  • Beware of Emails that Contain Unsolicited Links
    • Rule of thumb: Do Not Open any emails you do not know who the sender is.
  • Beware of Unsolicited Phone Calls
    • If someone that calls you cannot answer basic questions about their business or they are asking you for your account information or social security information; Hang Up, they are trying to steal your identity.
  • Shop Carefully in the Stores
    • Ladies: Keep your purses zipped and under your arm.
    • Men: Keep your wallets in your front pockets.
  • Shop Carefully Online
    • Always shop on a secure network with 1 credit card. The 1 credit card makes it easier to track that account.
  • Check your Credit Report
    • Especially given the Equifax hack, but you should check your credit report at least annually at annualcreditreport.com.
    • You can have fraud alerts put on your credit reports by contacting the following:

 

Experian:  https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html or call 1-888-397-3742

Equifax: https://www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud_Online/jsp/fraudAlert.jsp or                                         call 1-888-766-0008

Transunion: https://fraud.transunion.com/fa/fraudAlert/landingPage.jsp or call                                                    1-800-680-7289

 

Have Happy and Safe Holidays!